Sunday, April 11, 2021

Asher is coming home today

 The day has finally arrived for us to bring our baby home and we are over the moon thrilled.  We are here on day 38 of our NICU journey, and we are totally ready and prepared for our son to join us in our home.  His bassinet is set up, his changing table is ready and we have all the diapers, clothes, blankets and other accessories he needs to thrive and grow into his strongest possible self.  We feel blessed that Asher's nicu stay was stable and uneventful.  He arrived into this world earlier than we would hoped or expected, but he is a healthy young man ready to take on his next challenge and down his next bottle.  He is tiny but he absolutely has the strength of a warrior.

It's an exhilarating feeling to know that my son will be here in our bedroom tomorrow.  There is no greater comfort than his health and strength, and joining us outside of the hospital is a sign of his will to become a totally epic person just like all the other healthy babies out there.  We can see it in his eyes that he's ready to go too, but he will certainly be sad to leave all of his loving nurse friends from the nicu.

Life is beautiful.  Being around a baby is a magical experience that reminds me of the fragility, potential and joy of life.  It's so humbling to remember that we were all once babies, every single one of us.  Helpless and reliant on others to nourish and enable us to grow.  It is both inspiring and sobering to realize that there are so many babies who need help every day around the world.  A lot of those babies make it and grow to become incredible people, and sadly some of those babies struggle and might be too sick to make it.  When Julia and I first heard that Asher might be a nicu baby, we were terrified and panicking.  We read studies that said he had a 0% chance of survival and even if he did survive he would most likely have some type of severe condition that needed continual monitoring and interventions.  That was scary, and a part of that will live with us forever.  Asher has been healthy so far which is a miracle in every way, and we are still going to nourish him in every way we can.  I know that we both care so much that even though we are not people to worry about much, it will be really hard to not worry about our baby.  I know this is true of almost all parents, and it's something that I'm going to work on.  Because ultimately Asher will be who he will be, and we will love him completely however he is.  So worrying needlessly in the meantime will only bring unnecessary stress.  I think that instead we can set an intention to have faith that everything will work out.  It always does.

It's a hyper emotional day for us.  April 11, 2021.  The day we bring our baby boy home.  The day we become full time parents, forever.  The day we start a new chapter full of excitement, anticipation and cuddles but also a chapter almost entirely lacking in sleep.  It's a day where we say goodbye to the many nurses we have become friends with, and I don't know if we'll ever see them again, although I hope we can stay connected.  We feel so deeply grateful to all of these caring, supportive, loving, kind and healing nurses who saved our son's life and nurtured him until we could safely nurture him ourselves.  It is an incredible world that Asher could be born at 30 weeks of existence and grow so well.  We know that our son's life continues on due to the magic and brilliance of modern medicine, to the power of science and to the determination of countless doctors, nurses and researchers who have perfected the process of saving babies.  I have this feeling of complete surrender, acceptance and appreciation for the advanced society in which we live, for the technological era in which we exist and for the caring people of our community.  It takes a village to raise a baby, especially when that baby is born weighing only 2lbs.

Here's to the future and everything it holds.  We embrace all of its wonders with arms wide open, ready for whatever is next.  We will continue to strive to create a fertile space for Asher to thrive, filled with love, harmony, creativity and nourishment.  We are so excited to continue along our path of presence with everything that arises in life.  To always find the beauty, the magic, the appreciation for the countless aspects of our lives together that are naturally conspiring towards a better future.  We are so excited for you all to meet our little man and to share your life with him in some way.  

Thank you all and I'll be posting many more pictures soon!


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The final countdown (hopefully)!

I can't believe it's been over a week and a half since I last felt like I had time to sit down and write an update about baby boy!  He is doing so awesome right now it is a miracle!  I will start with the biggest news first - it looks like Asher is shaping up to come home with us a week from today!!  We are so wildly excited for him to be able to rest and grow in his super cool house, and we know he will have all of the care and support he needs at home from us and our family.  We are thrilled beyond words that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that Asher is so healthy and strong.  He is a precious gift in every way and such an adorable little nugget of a person.  When he comes home he might not even weigh 4 lbs yet!!

The little man is now free of all tubes!!! This just happened today and I have the best video of him triumphantly pulling out his feeding tube for the last time.  He has ripped it out before a few times only to have it quickly replaced.  You could see the disappointment in his eyes.  But this time he overcame and showed that tube who's in charge! (at the nurse's orders of course 😉 ) In the past week he has flown through so many milestones - his 34 week celebration, surpassing 1500 grams (he's at 1.69kg today or 3.75lbs), his first breastfeedings, no more oxygen tube, taking full bottles back to back to back, and his one month birthday!!! We are stoked and so proud of the will to fight in him, and we are beyond grateful to the outstanding support team of nurses doctors and professionals who have saved his life and helped him grow into the strapping 3 pounder that he is today.

Of course with all of this great news from today Julia and I are elated!  But still it's important to acknowledge that the best few weeks were really difficult at times.  We are so fortunate that Asher has not had any serious setbacks, but the possibility is always there.  It feels almost hard to believe that he will be coming home in a week and it might not feel real until we're in the car driving away.  Julia and I were in a good routine of getting into the nicu to help with Asher's feedings, changings and health checks about 2-3 times every day.  It feels like we have found a happy groove finally, and just as he is about to come home - but that is such a wonderful event to look forward to.  Some of the hardest parts for us have just been managing the life outside of our quality time with Asher.  Just the day to day things are really hard to stay on top of, as I imagine every new parent feels, and on top of that we were spending as much time in the nicu as we could, I was still working, we were preparing everything he needs when he comes home,  we were helping to take care of our new house/yard and still trying to find moments here and there to connect, relax and be present with each other and our family - it has been overwhelming for sure.  The truth is though that all of those frustrations just immediately melt away at the thought of bringing our little guy home and introducing him to his loving people who are all so ready to meet him too.

I have so much new respect for all parents.  I've always believed that it changes your life and that there's nothing to compare it to, but those are all infinitely true.  Like no matter how much we have tried to read about preparing for life with a baby, or being a nicu parent, it's still amazing how all of our thoughts and actions have reoriented around doing whatever we need to do to prepare and care for Asher.  There are a few hours here and there where we can unwind or focus on something else, but the baby is always beautifully right on the edge of our thoughts.

As our time in the NICU seems to be coming to an end, it really is bittersweet in many ways.  We have really come to think of the nurses here as our family.  They love Asher so much and show it in the way that they have saved his life and cared for him every day for the past 5 weeks.  They are some of the most caring and considerate people we have ever met.  I am in such awe of everything that they do and the miraculous impact they have on so many families every week.  We have become attuned to the nurses schedules and each of their different methods of caring, and we feel we have learned so much from their years and years of expertise and knowledge.  Not only have they saved our son's life, but they've also helped us to process through everything that's going on and reassure us that Asher has every potential to grow into a spectacular, strong person.  Asher is our baby through and through, but in a lot of ways he is their baby too, as he has been held in the hands of angels for the opening chapter of his life, and we will never forget the incredible family we have gained from our time in the NICU.  We feel that we have also gained some lifelong friends.

When I think of all the other parents who have to go through a similar situation, my heart totally pours open with hope and compassion for them and their familiies.  The NICU is a magical place that saves babies, and it is also so intense and scary.  There is a very real and continuous undercurrent of fear running throughout all of the moments that a baby spends in there, but it's also a place of immeasurable healing and protection.  The rollercoaster of emotions becomes a daily norm, and there were many times where we have felt so frustrated, upset and worried out of nowhere.  It's really hard to care about anything else when your child is fighting for their life even though they are in the best place to help them grow in these situations.  It's a whirlwind of a time.  Maneuvering our way through the past 5 weeks have felt like the longest five weeks of our lives, and yet as we look back it feels like these weeks passed by in an instant.  Asher has grown so much, achieved major milestones, and overcome every challenge put in front of him so far.  We have been there each and every day to support and care for him, but it's still such a strange feeling to look back and hope that we were there enough for him, to hope that he have done all we can to set him up to grow and develop.  As this first chapter of Asher's entry to the world is drawing to a close, we are ready to embrace the future as it is full of unlimited potential for this itty bitty baby.  I hope that other parents know there is always hope, that babies are the most resilient of all humans and can overcome all odds.  And you are never alone.  There are so many people, like us, who are here to listen to your stories with an open heart, to be a shoulder to cry on, and to understand the difficulties you are going through.  It takes a village, and we are happy to welcome all NICU parents into our village of love and support.

Now for the fun part.  Pictures!!!

Asher's triumph over his last tube today!

Some pictures from the past few weeks:

He is tube free today!!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Asher's first bottle!

It's been an amazing few days for Asher this week as he continues to awe us with his strength and determination to come home as soon as he can.  Even though it looks like we are still 4-7 weeks away from brining this big man back to our house, he is showing a lot of big strides in the right direction.  Each step, big or small, does wonders to our excitement and anticipation in his success.  It's a long and tiring journey, but we are right there with him every day in support of his growth.

Asher has now graduated to a less intensive isolette! Part of that transition is the nurses are now slowly lowering the ambient temperature around him as he learns to regulate his own body temperature.  Right now he is rocking it at 30.9 degrees, and the goal is for him to be able to self regulate his body temperature to maintain somewhere between 36.5 and 37.3 degrees with an ambient temp of 28 degrees while swaddled with a cover on.  He is well on his way towards achieving that milestone.

He has also began to demonstrate his strength in breathing as the air flow of his nasal cannula has been weaned from 2L to 1L at regular room oxygen levels!  He still tries to pull it out, and soon enough we'll be able to let him pull it out and keep it out for good!

The most exciting achievement in the past few days with this big man are that he has already begun to take his food through a bottle!  This is an epic step for him as he took and tolerated his very first bottle at 32 weeks and 5 days old.  Such an inspiration to see him fighting hard every day.  There is no doubt to us that he knows he's a tough one and is doing everything he can.

Julia is also continuing to heal wonderfully and is still doing so much for her family every day.  She is such an angel and is already the best mom sweet Asher could ever have.  It is of course the best part of our days to go in and hold our tender baby to our chest for as long as we can.  He even made it 6 hours straight skin to skin with us a few days ago.  People always say that there's nothing else in the world like having your own baby, and it's totally true.  We aren't even able to be with our little person all day long and still there is the wonderful feeling of helping to grow a little spirit of a human into something amazing.  It is magical to hold his little body and stare into his little eyes and just take it all in.  We always wonder what's going on in that brain of his, but we believe that he can absolutely feel our presence, hear our voice, sense our touch.  We even feel that he is starting to express more and more in his face, and an occasional smile appears at times when we're talking to him.  Maybe it's random, maybe it's the beginning of him recognizing the immense love that we and all of you wrap around him.  It's a gift and a blessing to be a parent and we are so excited for the many lessons, adventures and joys we will experience and share with Asher and with our friends and family.  It's going to be a beautiful journey!

With all of this inspiring progress on Asher's part - it helps make everything easier for Julia and me.  Of course we are still sad to leave his side every day.  It doesn't feel natural to say goodbye to our baby and drive away until the next day.  It doesn't get easier to hear Asher's alarms go off when we are with him - notifying us that his heart rate is too high or his respirations are too low.  Each alarm still jilts us, still fills us with momentary fear, still makes us question our every move when we are holding our baby.  But we know it will be better in time.  We know that he is gaining strength every day, and we know that with patience he will be as strong as anyone can be.

Through our fatigue we are continually blessed by so many loving people who help to prop us up and keep us going.  Even in our exhaustion, our hearts and souls are full because of all you wonderful people who selflessly care for our baby boy.  Through this experience there is no doubt that this world is a most magnificent place full of possibility, kindness and compassion.  If ever you are doubting the goodness of life, just think of all the people who spend their lives healing and protecting other people.  It is incredible beyond words.  The support we have received from family, friends, nurses, doctor, doulas and strangers is monumental and reaffirms the magic that is our shared experience in life.  Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts and know that we too will be here to support you if ever a difficult time arises.

my favorite happy people

all tucked in with his special sheets

julia is reading The Witcher to him

bottle service!

Asher's first time being swaddled <3

a precious mother baby moment

those ocean eyes

he loves it

drank the whole thang

clapping his hands in delight after eating

he says thank you for cleaning me up

now i shall resume snoozing thank you

Jordan's office view

baby boy all tucked in for the day

Friday, March 19, 2021

2 week birthday 🎉

first hat

such a goof already with the looks

so much love

his first outfit ever! and his bonding hearts

an amazing soft blanket - the other side says “tiny but mighty with the strength of a warrior”

 Asher turned two weeks old yesterday ❤️

Overall he is living well in his incubator so far.  He is tolerating 24ml feeds that are fortified to increase the calories up to 24cals and he is slowly but steadily growing week by week!  He is spending more and more time enjoying skin to skin with his mom and dad which always help him to relax and enjoy a long peaceful nap. We are reading a book to him - The Midnight Library.  He finds some chapters more entertaining than the others 😁

There have not been any major setbacks yet which feels like a miracle to us so far. We know it is because of the incredible care from the experienced nurses here who know just the right amount of everything needed to nourish him. Julia and I saw firsthand a couple days ago how finely tuned all of his support is when the nurses were ready to try to lower his air flow rate just a bit. Asher’s respirations jumped from 40-70 to 90-110 within a few minutes, so we listened to what he was telling us and adjusted the oxygen back up to 2l/m. Patience is the key to knowing that he will be incredible in due time, and gratefulness is helping us to appreciate and stay present with the many positive parts of his health and growth. 

He’s also still taking a few supplements in addition to his proten fortifications - iron, calcium and sodium - all to help him remain dialed in to the optimal growth requirements. His weight has gone up and down throughout the week as to be expected and he’s comin in at a heavy 1105g today (2lb 7oz). The latest estimate from the nurse practitioner is that Asher will be able to go home in 5 more weeks when he’s 37 weeks old.  We are of course so excited to bring him home whenever he is ready, and we understand that there is no rush and he will be ready when he is.

We have started to find a good routine of spending about 3-6 hours in the room with him every afternoon which gives us both time to hold him and change his diaper a few times while we’re here. We are starting to feel more normalized to everything that’s going on but there are still days where we feel totally exhausted. It is still surprising to us how tiring it can be just to sit in a room in the nicu. there’s so much commotion all around from the nurses, the alarms are going off every few minutes and every time Asher moves or does anything we have to make sure he can still breathe well. 

With all of it though we are enjoying and soaking up every precious moment with this little man. It’s absolutely incredible how he’s a whole and complete human - just super super tiny. The cutest thing we have noticed him doing so far is when he starts to sneeze. Tiny preemie sneezes are so tender. I will try to catch one on video next week.  

As always thank you to all of our friends and family for the outpouring of love and support. Each day it warms our hearts and nourishes our spirits. Julia is recovering really well and already trying to do more than I want her to. So please feel free to text her and tell her to relax and let everyone take care of her 🙂

Asher is coming home today

 The day has finally arrived for us to bring our baby home and we are over the moon thrilled.  We are here on day 38 of our NICU journey, an...