Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Nothing like a fresh coat of paint and a couple of pictures to make a utility closet look like a bedroom!

We finally were able to find the "A" today--thus turning "LIM" into "LIAM".


It's official. Finally. No more hospital trips. No more sleeping away from each other. No more crappy food from crappy eateries. No more lack of exercise (I can't believe exercise is finally a priority in my life). Pam and I were finally able to bring Liam home from the hospital today, after 10 days in the NICU. The literature at the hospital told us that the expected NICU stay for a 34 and 5/7 week preemie was 7-10 days. Phew! Liam just squeaked by. Megan also has a propensity for procrastination. She reluctantly met each of her developmental milestones (except vocabulary) at the very end of the normal range for that particular feat. Needless to say, Pam--the competitive one in the family who views everything as a race--was very happy that her boy made it home within the "normal" time allotment. Here's a picture of us leaving the NICU behind

What's the first thing we did when we got home? We took our fragile young babe and his sick sister outside on the front porch in the freezing cold of February for a family photo. Here is the family Smith, version 4.0

Megan is slowly adjusting to Liam being around. So far, she seems to be doing a lot of staring at him--not quite sure what to think and possibly wondering if he's here for good. And she really wants to be held by her mommy--moreso than ever before. But she did share her green blanket with him, so that's a good sign I guess.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


We heard word yesterday that Liam is scheduled for discharge tomorrow afternoon! The doctors decided that he is now skilled enough and gaining enough weight that he can be an "ad lib eater." Basically, he gets to determine when to eat. If after 4 hours he doesn't want food, they give him some anyway. Our little guy hasn't been waiting four hours, it's been more like 2.5 :) He must take after his dad.

Today, Liam has to pass the "carseat challenge." We have to strap him in to his carseat while he's still hooked up to his monitors--some preemies have problems when they're strapped down and can't move. If he passes this test--he gets to come home tomorrow.

Tonight Pam and I will be staying in a special room with Liam where we'll be taking care of him for the first night by ourselves (with the nurses as backups if we need them). Rooming in is mostly to help parents transition from the hospital to the home--I think it's a pretty good idea. Wish us luck and hopefully we'll be a functional family before too long here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Look Ma! No Tubes!

No, I'm not talking about fallopian tubes! Last night at 11:00, after 3 full feedings in a row, the nurse pulled Liam's feeding tube, and according to his chart, "the patient tolerated it well!" He also gained 12 grams yesterday or 2.5 nickels for those numismatists out there. I'm hoping this means he'll get to come home in the next few days, but nobody at the hospital is saying that yet.

He also is starting to get the hang of breastfeeding. Mom and Liam spent some quality time this afternoon. She's starting to feel better, but is still pretty tired. Here she is relaxing with her boy!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Golden Pig

Liam was born on February 18th, 2007. To most Americans this is just another day, but for most of Asia it was (Chinese) New Year's Day. Liam was born on the first day of the year 4704. This is the year of the Pig (boar) and those born in this year are said to be honest, tolerant, kind and loyal. They make friends for life and they enjoy their food. But from an Asian standpoint the best reason to be a pig is because they are lucky and luck has tremendous importance in many Asian cultures.

But this is not only the year of the Pig but the year of the Golden Pig, an event that occurs only once every 60 years (though many websites report once every 600 years, I believe 60 is the correct number). Children born in this year are said to be the most blessed and that they will lead a prosperous and wealthy life. The legend is so strong that some Asian countries are predicting a 10% increase in birth rates this year.

Here's to our Golden Pig!

One Week

Liam hit the one week mark today; that still puts him under 36 weeks gestational age.

Liam's admit note to the NICU said "infants between 34 and 35 weeks typically require 5-10 days in the NICU." With ten days just around the corner it doesn't look like Liam is going to make it. He failed a bunch of his feedings with me (it turns out I "cuddle" him too much when he feeds and he falls asleep too fast. Who ever heard of a mother cuddling her son too much??) and he didn't gain any weight yesterday.

At this one week point I find myself fairly discouraged. I really wanted to get him home in the next couple of days. The NICU docs are all optomistic and shrug their shoulders at Liam's slow progress,"Some kids are just like that," they say,"especially boys." The staff have likened learning to feed to learning to ride a bicycle: you can practice for days and you don't make any progress, then you ride for a little stretch only to fall off on your next attempt, and then one day, for no particular reason, it just clicks and you never have trouble again. Unfortunately, Liam still needs the training wheels.

As we were coming home from the hospital today I told Mac,"we need to get Liam home so we can be a family."
Mac responded,"We are a family; we're just dysfunctional."

You see, having Liam at the hospital has changed the family dynamic more than any new baby at home could possibly do. Mac and I are switching back and forth to make sure both Liam and Megan are getting plenty of attention, but we aren't seeing each other much. On the days I mostly stay home with Megan, I feel guilty for neglecting my newborn son; on the days I do extra time at the hospital I feel like I am abandoning Megan. And I feel terrible that Megan hasn't seen her little brother for five days, but she has been kind of sick and we don't want to risk it. Mac has things harder, because he has to keep chauffering me back and forth as well as himself, since I am still unable to drive. And then there is that dreaded breast torture machine, also known as the pump. I have a date with the machine every 3-4 hours. In the last five days I have pumped over a gallon and a half of milk - just call me Bessie!

I've also been discouraged by my progress. I am not in that much pain, but I am EXHAUSTED! I wake up from my sleep feeling more tired than I was when I went to bed. The doctors told me my blood loss was so severe that it could take me two months to get back to normal counts. In fact, if I hadn't otherwise been young and healthy I might have even gotten a blood transfusion (at one point it was discussed, but both my doc and I decided against it). But still, a week after surgery I feel like I should be on the rebound; besides I can't even complain about late night feedings (though I do have to get up to pump at least once). And today I was horrified to discover that I am completely numb around my incision site, especially at each end. (Hey c-section people: did this happen to you? did it go away??).

Mac demonstrates the proper non-cuddling way to feed Liam. Though we enjoy the time with Liam, it seems like we do little else besides go back and forth to the hospital to feed him.

I did get to give him his first real bath yesterday - a highlight of his NICU stay. Our little Aquarius took right to the water. I think he's looking pretty cute here in the tub, if we could only get rid of that God-awful tube down his nose! You might notice he's a bit yellow, but his jaundice never got to the point where it required therapy and his bilirubin levels are starting to come down already, so he should be a healthy pink in no time.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Weight Gain

Yesterday Liam gained 8 grams - that's about the weight of two nickles. Today he gained another 7 grams, for a total weight gain of half an ounce total. It doesn't seem like much at least he is going up! (from his nadir at 5 pounds 4 ounces).

Liam is now getting 45 ml per feed, the max that he needs until his weight significantly increases. Last night he was able to completely "nipple" (bottle feed) four out of five of his feedings and only needed "gavage" (tube) feeding once. Liam has to be able to do 100% of his feedings by himself and be gaining weight for at least two full days (probably even three) before he gets to come home with us. Plus, they want to make sure he learns how to breast feed and not just eat from the bottle. This is a high priority for me too, because I am already quite sick of pumpimg and I have only been doing it for a week!

Despite Liam's great progress, things have been a bit more hectic for us since I was dischrarged from the hospital on Thursday. Not only do we have a two year old and a preemie newborn to parent, but we have to do it in two different locations! Fortunately, Salem Hospital has boarding room for parents of NICU kids, so Mac has been able to sleep at the hospital, making it much easier to attend Liam's 8pm, 11pm, and 8 am feedings. We've told ourselves that even the best of parents are allowed to miss the 2 am and 5 am feedings. The NICU nurses seem to be in agreement with this plan and are not only wonderful with Liam but have been very supportive to us as well.

Liam will be in the NICU longer than the original projection of a week; however, we are hoping to bring him home by the middle of next week. We are keeping our fingers crossed!

Liam update

Good morning!
Liam gained another 7 grams in the past 24 hours. His last three feedings he's finished the bottle and hasn't needed to be tube fed. We gave Megan a different cough syrup last night and she stayed up all night again--this happened to us a couple of weeks ago too :( I was at the hospital, but Pam and my mom struggled with her. We've settled into a nice little routine that works for us: I'm at the hospital from 8PM to 11 AM and Pam's at the hospital from 2PM to 5PM. This way she gets to sleep in her bed at night, has a refrigerator to store her breast milk, doesn't wake me up while pumping, gets to spend some time with Megan, and gets to breastfeed Liam and take a 3 hour nap at the hospital. We'll keep you posted on more updates. Also, this way, Liam is fed by either Pam or myself 6 out of 8 times per day. We're all doing well and Liam is showing signs of getting better. Thanks for all of your help and support! Mac

Friday, February 23, 2007


Just so you don't think we've forgotten about Megan, here's out little Valentine (we got a little behind on the posts with my sister visiting and then with that whole emergency C-section thing):

Thursday, February 22, 2007


We were fortunate to have so many helpers around after Liam was born. Auntie Sarah, Uncle Bryan and Cousin Brooke were all here visiting for President's Day weekend - Thank heavens they were around Sunday night when everything turned chaotic! We knew we were leaving Megan in good hands.

The grandmas arrived soon after Liam was born - my mom on Monday and Mac's on Tuesday (only because her Monday flight got cancelled!). They have been invaluable; we couldn't have managed without them! Fortunately, we were able to reward them both with time with their first GRANDSON!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dx: Wimpy White Boy

Today the neonatologist talked to us some about Liam's progress. She said she he seems somewhat behind in terms of his eating and that he even seems a bit more premature than originally thought. She then leaned in and got really quiet. "We used to call these kids 'Wimpy White Boys,' but that's not P.C., so now we call them 'non-robust Caucasian males." She went on to explain that prematurity just seems to be worse in Liam's demographic and that these little guys just progress a bit slower. We also got warned that Liam might be boarding here a bit longer than the original estimate of a week. Essentially, he doesn't leave until he is eating by himself AND gaining weight.

Also, today a speech pathologist came to evaluate Liam, even though I was adamant that his lack of speech did not concern me one bit! Turns out she also evaluates suck and swallowing mechanisms. We weren't all that impressed when her evaluation came back as "overly somnolent and poor ability to suck (Duh!) but we've changed our tune now that we see how well her suggested "exercises" have helped. Hopefully, they'll turn our wimpy white boy into a growing gringo guy!

Family Update

Here's where we all stand on Day of Life #3:

Liam: His breathing is great and he hasn't needed any respiratory support. His heart rate often drops with feeding or pooping, but he is always able to get it back to normal by himself, which is the most important thing. Unfortunately, eating has proven to be too much of a challenge this early on - the little guy just has very poor muscle tone and falls asleep too fast to even finish his required ONE OUNCE meals (every three hours), so he did get a feeding tube. He still seems to be sleeping as much as ever, so I don't think the tube is bothering him too much. Weight gain (and avoiding significant wieght loss) is a huge concern, so the tube stays in until he can eat well on his own. This is also a requirement before he gets to go home. (FYI - an ounce of breast milk/formula has 20 calories; Liam has lost six ounces in the last two days).

Mom: I am tired. The heavy blood loss, surgery and new baby seem to have taken their toll. The C-section incision burns when I move, but most of the muscle soreness is gone. Fortunately, I've been able to shed all my wires and tubes (compression boots, pulse-ox, catheter, IV, etc.) and I don't even have to pee into a bucket anymore so that they can monitor my urine output! (So fun being in the hospital!). The breast pumpimg is going well and I expect to have enough milk today that Liam won't need any more formula supplementation.

Dad: Mac has been a trooper. I don't think he gets much acknowledgement that this is a rough time for him, too. He is tired and it shows. Still he's been getting up at night with me to help with pumping and he went to feed Liam while I got to nap this afternoon. Hopefully, he'll be able to get a goodnight's sleep tonight - he needs it.

Megan: Megan is a little overwhelmed and still trying to get everything figured out. She has seen Liam twice but always seemed a little confused. Her confusion was really brought to light when she asked,"Who's in Mommy's tummy?" while she was looking at Liam. My IV line also really freaked her out - she kept asking about my boo-boo and saying "mommy hurt her arm." She was much more at ease with me today now that it was out. We got some good quality time together today. And we are lucky to have two doting grandmas staying at our house, making this a bit easier on Megan.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Welcome Liam!

Well, he decided he didn't want to be on the inside anymore. Last night at 10:22 PM, Liam Mackenzie Smith entered the world. He is 19 inches long and weighs 5 lbs 12 oz. Considering he arrived 5 weeks to early, he is doing very well--no tubes or ventilators, just monitors. He's eating well and seems to be adjusting well. Mom had another unconventional birth, but she is doing very well and is happy that Liam is doing as well as can be. Megan is a little dumbfounded, but she already loves her little brother. Here are some pictures and there will be more to see later.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Like a Record, Baby

The MacDaddy turns 33 today. Happy birthday, Mac!

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Big Bed

A few days before Megan turned two, Mac and I built a bed rail for Megan and then gave her the option of sleeping in the big bed; she was thrilled. For a few days we'd put her to bed and she'd beg,"No sleep in the crib." We gladly complied. Two weeks later she was in agreement when we decided to move the crib out of her room. Thus we freed the crib, without letting Megan know she was being kicked out!

Megan is loving the big bed - maybe because she has gotten into the habit of sleeping with an entire toy store in her bed and the extra room keeps her from being suffocated by her managerie. Fortunately, everything gets left in the bed when she wakes up so we don't have to worry about dragging two blankets, Coco the monkey, blue elephant, Butter Cookie, Pinkwood, Pinkwood's comb, that scary purple music doll, and Little Nutbrown Hare everywhere we go.

Despite her new potential freedom, Megan has only gotten out of bed twice. Once was the second day, when she ran into the kitchen as excited as she could possibly be five minutes after we put her down for a nap, where upon she proudly announced,"I was sleeping in the big bed." Her enthusiasm waned when we told her she had to get back in it and take a real nap. The second time was this Sunday, when at 8 o'clock she decided it was time to get up - I can live with that.

The side rail is a cupboard door from the old kitchen - it saves Megan at least a half dozen times a night. That girl sleeps like a recently landed fish! At least I got one picture of her looking sweet and peaceful.


Megan has a new trick, one she loves to show off. Somersault (1.9 mb .avi)

Watch out Mary Lou, there's a new short, pudgy gymnast in town! (If you are expecting cartwheel and backflips, you aren't giving enough credit to the entry title!).

Now if only Megan could figure out the right places to perform this stunt. Some of her bad ideas include 8 inches from the wall, the landing of the staircase, and our friends' tiled entry hall. Guess she gets her spacial awareness from her dad.

And for the grammar "mavens" (aka police) out there - I'll sheepishly admit that I had to look up the spelling on this toddler task. Apparently "somersault" and "summersault" are acceptable, but don't try to throw an extra 'm' into the first version, as 'sommersault' is an apparent no-no.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Just Ducky

Thursday at work, my collegue commented that I was waddling. A second collegue heartily agreed. When I got home I reported this obvious rudeness to Mac. His reassuring response: "Yeah, well, you totally are."

Great. Now who wants to tell me my butt looks big??