an afternoon with Evey

This morning I woke up and literally had not one thing I absolutely had to do today.  Sure, there are always bills that could be paid or errands I could run, but nothing was necessary for today’s agenda.  While I was lying in bed doing my typical morning blog reading, I read my sister-in-law’s post about “waiting around” for baby Cate, who’s due date was yesterday.  Yep, we have another niece on the way and she’s taking her sweet time.  For someone who works with premature babies, it boggles my mind that babies actually come after their due dates!  I mean come on!  We are WAAAITING for you 🙂

So, while waiting for our newest niece to make her arrival, I decided today would be a perfect day to spend with our 1st niece, Evey.  Plus, I knew Jordan would probably welcome any break from the kids these days!  So after getting the ok from Jordan, I picked Evey up from their house when she got home from school and brought her back to “Amy and Bubba’s house.”  And yes, Evey refers to Greg as “Bubba.”  She decided that was his name one day (when she was still a baby, basically!), and he’s been uncle Bubba ever since!

She was SO excited when I drove up to their house. Her and Jordan were waiting outside and she was jumping up and down with excitement literally until I strapped her into her carseat.  And we had so much fun all afternoon 🙂  We took Sophie (our hound) with us on our walk to the park, played on the playground, came back to the house and watched some Bambi, took all 3 dogs out to the field by our house so Bubba could throw the ball with them, and then watched half of Little Mermaid before all 3 of us (humans, not dogs!) went back to her house for dinner!  What a day!

We loved having her over to play! And I’m pretty sure she had a great time too.  She fell asleep on the car ride home, so I’d say it was a success 😉

She walked Sophie the whole way home from the playground.
 Trying to take a picture with Sophie…
I think Evey found herself a new friend!

sweet little miracles

**Warning! I want to show you some pictures of premature infants…if you are not comfortable with this, this is your warning! I will stick with the PG version, but this is what I work with every day, so what I’M comfortable with may not be your comfort level!*
While I’m on the topic of work, I want to take a few moments to share about my job.  Working in a neonatal unit is kind of top secret.  Like most NICUs, I work on a locked-down unit, meaning only certain people have access to it.  Parents of our little patients, the guests they bring with them, and Women and Infant’s staff are pretty much the only people allowed on our unit.  They do this for security reasons.  In the old days, hospitals had large nurseries and you could peek into the windows and see the babies.  Unfortunately, horrible people in this world attempted and sometimes successfully stole babies from hospitals.  So now our precious babies (both full term and premies) are in locked units.

That being said, not a lot of people besides those who have been involved or had experience in the world of the NICU know what I do or get to see the little patients I work with each day.  Obviously, I cannot show you actual UAB patients, or discuss actual cases for the sake of confidentiality.  However, thanks to the internet world, I can show you other premies and tell you about some general neonatal knowledge and share with you all the wonderful work that I love to do!  And I love to talk about it, so if you’re willing to listen (or read!) then let’s go! 🙂

A baby is considered “term” if they deliver anytime after 37 weeks gestation. Full term (meaning a mother’s due date) is at 40 weeks.  Pre-term is obviously anything prior to 37 weeks.  Thanks to the medical science of neonatal medicine, it is possible to deliver a baby as early as 23 weeks and they still have a chance for survival.  23 weeks means delivering at only a 5 1/2 months pregnancy!  Obviously these babies have many milestones they have to overcome in order to survive.  They typically need ventilator support to breathe, they often have difficulties digesting the nutrition they are given, they are at very high risk of infection, and everything about their tiny little bodies is simply that…TINY!  A 23-weeker typically weighs about 1 pound, around 500-600 grams.  They fit in the palm of your hand.

Everyone remembers baby Josie (19th child of the Duggar family).  She was born at 25 weeks weighing 1 lb. 6 oz…

Here’s another 25-weeker (who was only 15 oz. at birth). He is 1 week old in this pic…

There is a vast degree of developmental changes that occur between 25 and 32 weeks gestation.  The most significant challenge for these infants is breathing.  Their lungs lack the intricate branches that are used for ventilation.  Another challenge is eating.  Until infants reach at least 32 weeks, they don’t have the neuro-development to coordinate breathing and swallowing at the same time. This means until our babies reach 32 weeks adjusted gestational age, we provide all their feedings through a feeding tube either through their nose or mouth.

Once they reach 32 weeks, we can begin introducing the bottle.  This can be a smooth and quick process, only taking a few weeks for the infant to fully transition from tube feedings to bottle feeding. Or it can take many many weeks.  Typically, the more neurological challenges the infant has faced the more challenges they face with learning to eat.  Brain bleeds are common in premature infants (Intraventricular Hemorrhaging, or IVH).  Infants with larger, more severe IVHs have more significant neurodevelopmental issues.  A large portion of my job consists of working with teaching infants how to bottle feed.

 Also, premature infants have difficulty maintaining their heart-rates at times. They frequently have bradycardias, where their heart rates drop below 100 beats per minute.  They often receive medication that helps them maintain their heart-rates, but in order to go home they must be weaned from this medication.  It’s all a matter of time with most these infants.  They also have to grow and be able to maintain their own body temperature.  Typically when infants reach around 1600 grams (about 3 1/2 lbs), they are able to maintain an acceptable temperature, at least 97.6 degrees F.  At this time we begin to wean them from their isolette to an open crib. But until that time, the isolette heats and cools to maintain their temperature.

There are SO many other things I could tell you about my day to day duties at work, but I don’t want to completely overwhelm everyone.  So in a nutshell, here’s a typical day…

  • get report at 0730 on the 3 or 4 infants in my daily assignment
  • first “round” begins at 0800 with whoever eats first.  Our babies eat around the clock, every 3 hours.  So, there is always an 0800, 0830, 0900, and 0930 infant I round on, and then the cycle continues every 3 hours from that at 1100,1130, 1200, 1230….and so on.
  • Infants on oxygen get vital signs written every 2 hours.
  • Oral medications are typically given at feeding times closest to the meds’ dose time, with the exception of IV medications which are given within 30 mins of whatever the dose time.
  • Full assessments are done during the 1st round.  Continued assessments are done throughout the day and changes are charted accordingly.
  • Labs are run typically on PM shift, but on day shift as needed.
  • Some infants eat entirely by feeding tube.  Some eat by bottle once a day, twice a day, or as often as tolerated depending on how far they are in their development.
  • Babies are weighed every night, either the last round of day shift or the first round of night shift.
  • Speech and physical therapy work with RNs to help infants grow developmentally.
  • The day runs fairly smoothly unless an infant show signs of illness or worsening conditions.  A “work-up” is then done which can be as simple as a few labs, or as complex as chest and abdominal x-rays (typically with breathing or digestion problems), lumbar punctures, and changes in medications, sometimes starting IVs for initiating antibiotics.
  • And most importantly, working with parents and teaching them all the things they need to know about taking care of their baby.

Whew. How about that!? So I’ll leave you with some of my favorite pictures I came across today, all of which are very typical of what I see and work with every day!

night shift vs. day shift

I feel like I’ve complained about work a lot lately to Greg.  Adjusting to day shift has been rough.  I worked as a night shift nurse for 3 years, and then shortly after we got married in October, I was offered a day shift position.  Although I never really hated night shift, I took the position (cause I knew if I turned it down, it could easily be 5+ more years before I got asked again!).  And night shift definitely had it’s downsides.  Some days I could come home and stay awake and have a normal day (sometimes being awake for 24+ straight hours).  I’m pretty sure I pushed it to 30 hours a few times, which I’m sure is SOOO not good for your body, or mind, or overall health.  But I would hate those days that I was so tired I just couldn’t stay awake and would have to sleep through my off days.  When you work night shift, you essentially need 2 off days to feel like you’ve had a break. And I spent so many hours awake at night and you can’t do much at night. No stores are open, and you can’t run errands.  Housework and laundry is about all you can knock out late at night/early AM.  So, I was ready to give day shift a shot!

The annoying thing now though, is I STILL cannot wake up at a decent time.  On my off days, I’m lucky if I make it out of bed by 10am.  It’s almost always 1100-1230 before I’m up and awake.  That’s ridiculous.  And waking up at 630AM is sooo much harder than waking up at 530PM.  I really thought by now I would be doing great in my day shift schedule and I’d be up bright and early every day…maybe not at 630am every day, but by 9am at least on my off days. Nope.  And it’s a different kind of tired.  Night shift tired is almost a painful, dizzy, sick-like tired. My current state of tired is a simpler tired, but I end up wasting just as much of my day as I did before, if not more!  Oh, and did I mention night shift PAYS so much better!  Yeah, that hit our bank account hard.  One of these days…ok, years…we’re gonna want babies of our own.  And we need to be saving for that now.  But that’s not happening :/

I know working night shift over long periods of time will wear and tear on your overall health far more than keeping a normal day shift schedule.  Research shows night shift workers age quicker and are more prone to illness  and other health issues.  So I am a battle point these days.  Night shift or day shift?  Which is really better?  Clearly they both have their pros and cons.  But which carries more weight?  I’m not sure I really know.

One thing I do know, regardless if it’s at night or during the day, I love looking at these sweet little faces every week!! (and no, these are not UAB babies!  I’m HIPAA compliant!! These images were just pulled from the internet)

 

I love the actual work part of my job! 🙂 And it helps with my baby crave! haha. If I didn’t work with these little ones all the time, I would really be itching to have one of our own!!!!  But they help make it ok to wait 🙂

Room updates!

A few weeks ago we had some pros come in a do a little re-wiring of our master bedroom TV.  Here’s where our TV lived before….sticking out from the wall right where you walk into the room. Ok, so this is not the best picture, this is from December. See it in the top corner there? To the right? Basically, it stuck out about a foot from the wall…and all the wires were exposed. Meaning the cable wire ran down the wall, into my closet, over the door frame and back behind our dresser on the other wall.  Also please note the blanket that used to serve as our window treatment….

 Here’s the wall…(with the crazy cords, and then minus the tv)

We made the decision to move it permanently to the corner opposite the bed.  That meant calling in the pros so they could run the wires behind the wall where they belong.  So now, here’s our set-up…

It’s a minor change but we love it so much better!!  And note the new window treatments 🙂  No more blankets covering the windows.  And while we are on the subject of upgrades….let’s talk about the master bathroom…
Remember this picture from last spring when Greg decided to demo the bath?
Although I would have loved to make it look something like this…
Our bathroom is just WAY too small.  Every square pedestal sink we looked at was a good 6 inches too wide for the space.  So, we had to go with a tiny round one.  But who knows, maybe one day we will put some beadboard in there!  But, after a new coat of paint, new toilet (from ReStore), sink, light, and medicine cabinet (from Lowes), and some hardware (from Target and Hobby Lobby), 6 months later Greg’s bath is coming along nicely!
And the guest bedroom is finally useable!  It went from this cluttered mess (and this is after moving stuff into our outdoor shed)
 To this!
 Buuuuut, don’t look at this corner!  haha.  It’s a slow process 😉
 Baby steps, people.  By the time I’m “done” with the house, we will probably be ready do move. Isn’t that how it always goes?  And I have all kinds of outdoor plans in mind, but this weather has got to warm up before we tackle any of that.

my sweet Valentine

Our first Valentine’s Day as Mr. and Mrs. went very well.  We decided to do our Valentine’s date last night.  My mom had given us a gift card to Village Tavern at Christmas, and we saved it for this date 🙂  But wait, let’s go back to yesterday morning. I slept in, as usual.  When I woke up I found this in the kitchen…

 

Beautiful roses and chocolates!  Gooood Ghirardelli chocolates 🙂  And a not-so-sneaky husband. haha, I kinda caught him in the act while he was laying the card out.  The rest of our day went about as usual.

Before we headed out to dinner we wanted to exchange our gifts we had gotten each other.  For Greg, I printed this picture of him and all his groomsmen and framed it in a nice leather frame to put in his office…

And he bought me some Valentine’s scrubs!  He knows how much I love my holiday scrubs 🙂

Dinner was delicious!  We ate some steaks and potatoes, salad, and we wanted to get some dessert at the Cheesecake Factory, but we were way too full after our awesome dinner.  So we just headed over to Hoover to see The Vow.  But before that we stopped by Cajun Steamer to visit our friends who were out celebrating a birthday. It was nice to have time to stop by and visit between dinner and the movie.  Ok, so about The Vow.  I won’t say too much about it so I don’t give anything away, but I enjoyed it!! Greg got a little frustrated with it, but still liked it.  It was a sweet story, and it’s a true story!

So today, on Valentine’s day, we asked our friend Michael over for dinner.  I made meatloaf and roasted red potatoes. And we actually sat at our dining room table for the first time 🙂

 And dinner wouldn’t be complete without these yummies!

So I would say we had a wonderful Valentine’s Day this year!  I love my sweetie and am so thankful to have him in my life 🙂  Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!

projects galore

So, I slept until almost 1pm today. Ridiculous, I know.  I swear, I feel like I sleep more with a day shift job than I did working night shift.  Like I said, ridiculous.  But, somehow I was a machine today getting all sorts of little projects done around the house.

First, I finally got my botanical prints hung that my mother-in-law bought me for my birthday last month!  Check them out…

After that I did some major house cleaning.  With 3 dogs in the house, it’s amazing how much dog hair accumulates everywhere if I get behind on vacuuming!  So the whole house got a deep clean.  Luckily the weather was awesome today, so I had windows open all over the house and that put me in a happy little spring cleaning mood.

After cleaning, I decided to take down some “bachelor pad” signs that have been hanging in Greg’s house ever since he and the guys all lived here.  We had these lovely signs hanging in the back den…

We didn’t get rid of them, but they will live in the outdoor shed for now 😉  Next, I decided to hang a few new items around the house, like this really cool magazine rack I snagged at TJMaxx last week…

 I really like how it fits on this wall.  The whole corner seems more complete now.

Then my last project of the day was making a Valentine’s Day wreath for the front door.  I found this heart shaped grapevine wreath at Micheal’s last week, but it needed some color.

I found these cute felt rosebuds at Hobby Lobby, and I bought this ribbon at WalMart.

First, I decided to stitch the rosebuds together so they would hold securely as one piece when I got ready to attach them to the wreath.  I just hand-stitched around some the of the leave’s edges to form 1 cluster of rosebuds.

I applied some E6000 glue to the back of the roses to attach to the wreath, but I also wrapped some thread around it all to help secure it.  I kinda just rigged it until it held firmly.  haha, so here’s my progress after attaching the roses.

 Then I started at the top and loosely wrapped the ribbon around the wreath, looping it through the pieces of twigs.  Oh, and at my starting point, I hand-stitched a small loop at the end of the ribbon, and looped that around the end of a twig to hold the ribbon in place.

I just continued making loops all around the wreath, and then tucked the end of the ribbon into the twigs in the center.  Done!

We are ready for Valentine’s Day now 🙂
oh, and speaking of holidays….I took our Christmas stockings to get monogrammed a few weeks ago, and picked them up yesterday.  I love them!

doggie playdate

 

Last weekend we had some friends come stay with us.  It was our first set of guests in our guest room, which I was excited about! (Luckily, I had cleaned the room out quite a bit a few weeks ago).  It’s not done yet, but at least the bed and floor aren’t covered in stuff.  Anyways, Saturday we decided to take all the dogs to Oak Mountain State Park for a play date.  Between us and our friends, we had 5 dogs with us.

Lily and Jack belong to us (we left Sophie at home)
  
Rebel (is one of Jack’s nephews) and belongs to Creed (who came to stay with us)
Josie (Jack’s nephew, Rebel’s sister) belongs to John and Leah
 
And Copper is one of Taylor and Jeslyn’s handsome pointers
 
The dogs had a blast, and we had fun too!  Lily isn’t too much a fan of the water. She mainly stays on the shoreline and barks at the other dogs as they chase the ball out into the water. But the other dogs were hilarious!  Since the water was so shallow in some areas, they couldn’t really swim out to the ball. So instead they jumped like gazelles through the water.
 
It was a good day for all!  And a great weekend with friends 🙂
   
family of labs
 
 
 
 
 Creed and John
 
 
 me and Mary Grace
 

Creamy Baked Chicken

Wow, I have not posted a recipe in way too long.  Unfortunately, it’s because A) I don’t cook as much as I should. Ironically, Greg has become more of the cook than I have.  My work schedule means I get home after 8pm 3 days a week, so he does a lot of our cooking.  B) some of the new recipes we’ve tried lately have not been that great.  They were just ok.  And I refuse to share a recipe unless it’s truly good. 

So, I was really excited tonight when a few bites into dinner, Greg and I determined this recipe was a keeper!  It’s called Creamy Baked Chicken, and here’s what you need:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup cooking white wine
  • 1 cup herb seasoning stuffing mix
  • 2 Tbsp. butter

I had never bought stuffing mix or cooking wine, but here’s what I got…

Oh, and did I mention how EASY this recipe is??  Yeah, it takes about 15 mins to prep (if that) and then you pop it in the oven.  Ok, so arrange your chicken breasts in a baking dish.  Top with cheese slices.  In a separate bowl, combine the cream of chicken soup and cooking wine and mix well.  Spoon mixture over the chicken and sprinkle stuffing mix on top.  Pour melted butter over the stuffing crumbs and bake at 375 for about 30-45 mins (depending on how thick your chicken breasts are).

Here’s our dish before I put it in the oven…
and after it cooked…
 yumm!!