Milestones and Memories

Another week has flown by and I’m happy to report that Vivian is still seizure free! :) This is so awesome. *whispers* Day 25.

On Monday we went to Vivian’s first session at the Champion Centre. It was pretty interesting, although it was very short! The team got a chance to see Vivian in action under a play gym and got to know us as a family a bit more. I think at this point it will be a slow and steady progression (I hope) to new things with her there.

She is also hitting some milestones in the coordination department with her visual tracking and reaching for toys. We noticed her showing some real determination last week whenever she was on the changing table where her mobile is. Although she would be tracking the toys visually, she would be grabbing off to the side and not really grabbing at the ones she was looking at. Then suddenly something clicked a few days ago and she is now actively trying to grab the one she is looking at for the most part! She does a bit of both in the video below.

 

She is using her right hand more than her left at the moment, and the physiotherapist at the Champion Centre showed us how to stroke her left arm to give her some spacial awareness of where her arm is. As soon as she did that, Vivian started reaching with her left arm as well.  You can see she likes to keep her hands in fists most of the time, unless she’s really relaxed. Hoping this continues to improve with time, too.

She keeps surprising us in many ways! I can’t wait to see if she can roll over eventually. From the way she kicks about when she’s upset, I think she will be able to.

We had a follow-up with the ENT specialist on Tuesday morning. Vivian has moderate conductive hearing loss in both ears and they’re still unsure as to exactly what is causing this. She is being referred to an audiology clinic to get fitted for hearing aids sometime soon. It makes me wonder how much of a difference we will see once she has the hearing aids in and on. I am afraid that she won’t like them or that we’ll struggle with taking them out/putting them in during the right situations. She is so easily over stimulated, I would hate to add this to her plate!

We also had an appointment with neurology on Tuesday (haven’t seen her actual neurologist for a few weeks. Saw the registrar again) and because Vivian is still seizure-free, we have started weaning her off of the prednisone! So her daily dose of 8ml has been lowered to 6ml per day.

You would think this would mean an improvement in Vivian’s overall mood but we’ve seen the opposite effect. Vivian is back to having some extremely unsettled periods (non-stop high-pitched screaming where nothing seems to sooth her) and she’s returned to not eating as well, like she was before we began the steroids. I have read this is a pretty common side effect of weaning off steroids appetite suppression and irritability. It’s made for a rough couple of nights so far, but luckily she is asleep as I type now. Long may it continue!

I am hoping that after the wean she will continue to eat better than she did before the steroids and not lose weight, but time will tell. She’s now weighing in at 6.15kg, which is up 750g from what she weighed the day we started the prednisone, 3 weeks ago. You can definitely see it in her face! Chubby cheeks galore.

Although she is extremely unsettled sometimes, her smiles have returned in full force when she is happy, and she’s started talking to us nonstop as of yesterday. I’m talking full-on conversations! So cute. And really great eye contact during them. It really cracks us up when she just talks and talks and talks.

She’s started staring into my eyes very intently at night after Ben’s gone to bed and smiling at me. And enjoying kisses! So, so amazed at how happy this makes me. We were told that she may never be able to register what she was seeing at all due to the damage in the visual center of her brain and look at what she can do already.

The only downside to our new googly-eyed girl is Vivian seems to only have eyes for me at the moment! Poor Ben is getting the huge, adorable frown whenever he kisses her, or worse, real tears.  Hopefully this improves quickly, because I’m due back at work on Monday! I already feel guilty just thinking about her crying at him while I’m gone :( I didn’t think it would be this hard to go back to work. Maybe under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t be, but alas. Our ride has been anything but normal from the get go with Miss Vivian.

I’m tucking all of these magical moments away to save for later. I wish memories didn’t fade the way they often do. I realized last week, once my nose cleared up after my cold passed, that Vivian no longer has that newborn smell :( It disappeared when we were sick and it made me SO sad to discover that it was gone! I actually cried. I keep sniffing her head hoping it’s back, but so far it hasn’t been. If I had known before I got sick that it might be the last time I smelled it, I would have smelled it a lot more often. For shame!

Hoping the seizures continue to stay gone. And that her newborn smell magically comes back. :)

How has your week been?

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The days are blurring together

Well, we’ve made it past the 2-week mark of no seizures! 16 days today. It’s really fantastic. I again don’t want to jinx anything, so don’t want to dwell on it!

The days are blurring together and we are so exhausted. Emotionally I am all over the place. Vivian is doing well, but she is definitely not the happy, smiling baby she was before we started the steroids. It’s been days since we’ve gotten a smile out of her and she is just so hungry *all* the time. Like hulk hungry. Hangry even. I’m surprised she hasn’t turned green and split her onesies yet. She’s cat napping instead of getting good naps in and on top of that, has stopped sleeping through the night in two good chunks. Any time she wakes, she is hangry, no matter if she’s been asleep 3 minutes or 30 minutes. It’s like she has no off switch on her stomach.

This means she is guzzling through the donor breast milk we had stashed and I have spent most of the past week stressing about being able to meet her feeding needs. One of our donors is going back to work this month and the other two screened donors who helped while Vivian was in hospital have had things come up which mean they can no longer donate currently either.

We got very lucky and found a Mom up in New Plymouth with a decent frozen stash, along with a super lovely mother out in Leeston who read Vivian’s story and wanted to help, so we are good for milk for the next little while! I am hoping this is enough time for me to source a few new donors so we are not so reliant on one person’s supply. I so wish I could produce more milk for Vivian. It is the most awkward and humbling experience to ask someone else to share their baby’s food with Vivian. I am forever thankful to the ladies who have helped us thus far in making sure Vivian has breast milk and would love to continue using breast milk as long as we possibly can.

On top of Ben and I being sick last week, Vivian did end up catching whatever virus it was, and we ended up taking her into the hospital last Thursday to get checked out. Normally I probably wouldn’t have taken her in, but her doctor advised us to bring her in if she gets sick while on the course of steroids. She did get the all clear, but she developed a pretty chesty little cough and has since lost her voice (something Ben isn’t particularly upset over). She also has a case of thrush in her mouth and on her bum, so we have to treat her for that. Apparently steroids can mess with babies’ systems in that way as well, and thrush/yeast infections are quite common while on steroids.

On Saturday, we caught up with some friends who helped change the oil on our car and ate yummy donuts. It was neat getting out of the house with Ben, and not to a doctor’s appointment. Vivian was pretty good during that visit and even took a nap on me! :)

Sunday, a lovely lady came to see us and dropped off some breastfeeding supplements we ordered from the US. Although we’ve only known her a short while, she is really awesome to talk to and is a great source of positivity and encouragement about all things breastfeeding-related. She also referred us to Bellyful, and we are waiting to see if we can be accepted twice, as they already helped us out with some tasty meals back in July.

Monday, we met the team at Champion Centre; we start weekly appointments there next Monday. The specialists seem really wonderful and I hope that Vivian thrives with their help.  I am still very disappointed with how long the referral process took with this, because I’m now due back to work on the 22nd of this month. I get to go to ONE appointment there with Vivian. We have been home for almost 10 weeks now. I know the important thing is that she is going at all, but I wonder how much easier our journey could have been thus far if we had gotten the support we needed from the get go with this, especially when we were struggling so, so hard with Vivian’s feeding.

Tuesday, Vivian and I had lunch with a couple local Moms with whom I started my pregnancy journey. They have been a strong source of support for Ben and I and so much fun to get to know online. It was awesome meeting them in person and talking with them and seeing how lively their little ones are. At the same time, it was hard to see how much their babies are doing and where Vivian is in comparison. It’s not like I actively want to compare her to them. It’s just very hard to ignore when it’s right in front of me. I got a bit unexpectedly teary while I was there and felt pretty embarrassed about it. Hoping that outings and catch-ups will get easier, but I think it will take me a long time to see other babies and not feel slightly sad/disappointed/envious/etc. I think any new mom of a special needs child would feel the same way for a bit, at least in the beginning.

Yesterday, Vivian had an audiology appointment for more hearing tests and at the same time I had my follow-up with the OB who performed my cesarean section. The hearing test didn’t go so well this time because Vivian didn’t want to sleep while we were there and we were only able to get testing done on one of her ears in the last 15 minutes of the 2.25-hour appointment. Directly after that appointment, we were due at a neurology follow-up where Vivian’s blood pressure and urine were tested. Blood pressure was in the high-end of normal, urine was clear, and we were told that Vivian’s EEG showed no abnormal/epileptic activity. If we continue to see no seizures, we may be able to start weaning Vivian off the steroids at 4 weeks instead of 6 weeks, which is awesome news.

Because there was no abnormal activity on the EEG, the registrar said that if Vivian’s seizures were controlled by the steroids, they would not be doing another EEG. I’m not sure if this is normal for IS treatment or not. We have another weekly neuro appointment next Wednesday, so I will be asking for more information about the EEG results then, because although there was no seizure activity, I’d still like to know what else it showed. Hopefully we will actually see the neurologist this time, instead of his registrar. She was really nice and did answer all of the questions we had at the time, though.

Today we have a Te Puawaitanga nurse appointment for a well child check. Thank god this one is at home; we all just need a day at home after a busy day like today. Vivian was so over tired by the time we got home. Not a happy camper! But trips out are getting easier. Maybe it’s an age thing? She does still seem to be easier to settle now than she was a month ago, thank goodness.

So, lots of good points over the past week to be thankful for.

I just want to sleep. For a very long time. I know this will never be possible, ever! I try not to mourn the days of being able to just nap as long as I wanted! At least I know THAT is at least a normal part of parenthood.

Tummy Time

 

No Jinxing

I managed to get Vivian asleep in her bassinet tonight, so I have time to write a quick post.

We’ve made it past the one week mark! In fact, we’re now into day 10, which puts us at a tie for the longest Vivian has remained seizure free since she started having infantile spasms. I’m almost afraid to keep counting days because I don’t want to jinx anything.

It looks like my fears about Vivian acquiring an oral aversion can be laid to rest. She is eating like a horse now, and will take a bottle almost any time it’s offered, instead of just after waking like she normally would. And she’s putting on weight well again after not-so-great gains since her follow up appointment with her doctor; she put on 100g in the past two days! I know rapid weight gain is a side effect of the steroids, but I’m hoping this one isn’t too bad for her in the long run.

She will also tolerate the prednisone syringed into her mouth without too much hassle, as long as we do it in small amounts and distract her with bouncing and/or funny faces, and because she’s so hungry, she will happily take her gaviscon with a bit of milk in a bottle too. So medications seem to be easier given all around and we are falling into a good rhythm of sorts.

We had some really bad sleeping days this week, which was hell on Ben and I because we have both been sick. We cancelled the meet & greet at the Champion Centre because we were afraid of getting other folks sick, and I cancelled my follow-up appointment with the doctor who delivered Vivian today due to still being sick. I hope it gets rescheduled soon (it was supposed to be a 6-week follow up…Vivian is 12 weeks now). I have a feeling I should’ve just gone to the appointment, but I feel like death warmed over.

I am praying Vivian doesn’t catch it and am doing my best to not breathe on her. It’s hard for me not to kiss her little face, though!

It seems like I’m her favorite this week. Vivian has even started falling asleep in my arms on a regular basis, which is so lovely :) And she is becoming much more vocal with us. Ben’s new favorite pastime is having babbling conversations with her on our bed, which is adorable. She also seems to be easier to settle when she is upset, which is also something I don’t want to jinx. I’m not sure if this is due to the prednisone tiring her out, or what, but I will take it.

And we are still getting smiles. I was so afraid that the steroids would make her super unhappy, but that hasn’t happened yet. She really digs this new mobile we got off Trade Me- it’s pretty neat in that it can clip on to anything. We saw one like it at the follow-up appointment and Vivian seemed to like it, so I hunted one down. Happy to say it’s the best $20 we’ve spent since we got the Nature’s Sway hammock! She really loves tracking the little faces and I’m so glad she is still smiling every day.

Vivian 12 weeks

We have an appointment with her neurologist on Wednesday, after another audiology appointment. Hopefully he’ll have some news about what her EEG showed for us then. Not looking forward to the audiology appointment, though! It’s the fourth time we are getting her hearing tested; there seems to be something mechanically wrong with her ears (not neurologically, like you would expect considering everything else going on) and we have been referred to an ENT specialist to try to pinpoint what is going on. At this point we’re not sure if she will need hearing aids or perhaps require surgery. Lots of unknowns.

 

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