Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Movin' On Up

Calla turned two weeks old and graduated to the big kids room, aka, the growing room last night. So we celebrated with her first hippie outfit, she was born in Eugene afterall. She wanted to celebrate by doing a photoshot with her namesake, the Calla Lilly for her birthday.

So back to the big news. We were moved down to the first floor NICU unit (the growing room), were the babies that are stable go that just need to grow and learn to suck, swallow, and breath. Which we all take for granted but it is pretty hard at first. She is definetly the smallest baby down there right now,by about a pound. She is definetly an overacheiver, we did not think we would be moved down there for a few more weeks. We still have at least a month here though, because she has a long way to go before she has the stregth and stamina to take in all of her food orally. She is doing amazing though and is up to 3 lbs. 10 oz. Her parents are so proud of her!

I am all ready for the Oregon Country Fair!

That flower is huge, it is bigger than my head.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

So happy in mommy's arms.

Bye Grandma and Grandpa

Hi everyone!

We had to say goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa Shaff this afternoon. We had to drag grandma out of the room. They were already trying to plan their next trip at breakfast this morning. I guess those just once a year visit are history now from the parents/grandparents.

Calla is resting this afternoon for her next set of vistors. Some friends from Corvallis are visting this afternoon, Kevin and Nicole.

I love holding my Dad's hand!

Well that is it for now, just thought I would post a few new photos. It is off to see my daughter.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mom, Grandma, and Calla enjoying a moment

Calla is growing by the ounce it seems now. She is upto 3 lb. 8 oz. as of tonight. Another 8 oz. and she gets to escape her isolete and move into a crib. It will so much easier to pick her up. She is enjoying her time with the AZ grandparents. Grandma Lynda got some good holding time with her tonight while she was wide awake.
We did get some slighty scary news today though. The doctors noticed a heart mummer this morning so they did a ultrasound of her heart today and found a Ventricular Septal Defect, which is a small hole, about 3 mm, in the wall between the two lower heart chambers. It does not seem to be affecting her right now since she is doing so well. It is a very common congentital heart defect that may go away over time. It is in the muscle of the lining, so as she grows, the muscles might just close the holes and everything will be fine. If she had gone full term, it might not have even been noticed becasue the muscles might have closed in the holes by then. But we will be visiting a cardiologist in the next few months in Portland to monitor the holes. Right now it is just something we have to watch closely. Here is a web site that has a little more detail if you care to read:

On the lighter side Calla got her first real bath with a tube full of warm water. This is the way to go as opposed to how we did it a few night ago that was just a sponge bath. She seemed to really like it, just like her mom likes her baths.

Mom and Dad giving Calla a bath

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday, April 26

Hi Everyone. I have not written in a few days because we have been busy, but lots of fun. On Thursday, my mother left after a week and a half of taking care of us. I know she will miss her smallest granddaughter lots and we can’t wait to see her again whenever she decides to come visit, hopefully with Grandpa next time. Friday was full visitors and Saturday Grandma and Grandpa Shaff got to hold their first grandchild for the first time. It was a great experience for all as Calla gave them a few smiles and lots of open eyes.

Calla continues to do amazing. She gained another 50 grams over the last 24 hours and is showing more and more interest in nursing. The last two days she has latched on and sucked a little. I am not sure if she has gotten anything yet because I have been pumping before her feeding time so I am going to change that and start pumping after her feeding time that way if she really is ready to suck and swallow, even if it only a little bit, I will have the milk ready to give her. She never ceases to amaze me. When I went to see her an hour before her feeding time this afternoon she was wide awake just looking at the world. She had her big beautiful eyes wide open and just looked around as I talked to her while I was pumping. I know she will grow up fast so I cherish every moment with her.

Scott and I continue to do well. I have started to only pump twice at night so I get 5 1/2 hours of sleep at a time and try and take at least a 30 minute nap each day. Scott gets full night of sleep, but then he gets to do any errands that need running during the day. We are a great team. We are really enjoying the visitors, so keep coming. We love to show off Calla and it is so nice to feel the connection back to Corvallis. We really miss Corvallis, our home, friends, and of course Aspen. Thanks to everyone for your help and support. Your friendship and help through this adventure makes it so much more endurable.
Lots of Love,

I don't think Grandpa Bob has ever smiled so big!

Grandma Lynda holding her granddaughter for the first time, I am not sure if life gets any better than this.

I already have them wrapped around my little finger!!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Calla got all dressed up for her Grandma Lynda and Bob tonight, but they had some flight troubles and will not be getting into Eugene until past midnight tonight. Which is way past Calla and her parents bed time, so we will be seeing them in the morning. They had to fly into Medford, OR and rent a car and drive up to Eugene, which is over a 2 hour drive. It was either that or not fly into Eugene until tomorrow evening. They meet another nice lady from Eugene who is renting the car with them to get to Eugene, so at least they will have a local driving them and will not get lost late at night.

Calla did not get dressed up for nothing though. Her neighbors Joy and Jay came to meet her as well as another friend from Corvallis, Audrey. So she had a pretty social night.

Calla's doctors told us tonight that she is a superstar and is doing great. She gained another 35 grams yesterday! She just makes her parents prouder every day! Well, we should ready for a big weekend with the grandparents. So goodnight everyone and have a great weekend. Enjoy the sun if you are in Oregon.
Here she is taking a nap with her Mom and sucking her thumb. Look at that head of hair already. I think it is thicker than her Dad's.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Calla's back on the internet!

I think I am so cute!

Well, sorry for the technical difficulties over the past 24 hours if you tried to get a Calla update. Google determined the site to be a suspected spam creator website. We had to petition them to review the site and repost it. They said it might be up to 4 days, so I guess we got lucky, it was only shut down for about 24 hours.

So now back to the important news, Calla. She has been growing the last few days. She has gained some weight over the past few days and is now back to her birth weight of 3 lbs 2 oz. She has also gotten taller over the past week, by growing 1 inch, she is now just under 17 inches. She surprises us everyday. The last few days she has started waking up about 30 minutes before each feeding, which she gets every three hours. These are the best moments of the day.

Check out my ripped bicep!

Granda Cindy left today, I think she is going to miss her newest granddaughter. They got a lot of good snuggle time though while she was here. Tomorrow Grandma Lynda and Grandpa Bob are coming into town to meet their first grandchild from Tucson. Calla told me tonight she can not wait to meet them. She is practicing her cutest looks tonight for them.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Mother’s Story – The Emotional Rollercoaster

Well here I am again writing when I am supposed to be sleeping. I even decided to give myself some extra time between pumpings so I could get more sleep and of course, I am wide awake. Since I was released from the hospital I have had nothing but emotional highs, Calla has been and continues to do great, and I am so proud of her. However, today was a hard day for me. Like Scott wrote she continues to have her episodes where she forgets to breath and she often has then when I am holding her in the evenings. This is always hard on me because I feel that I can’t protect her from them. One week ago she was still inside me and I could protect her from everything and now she is no tiny and has to deal with the big outside world. I know that she will grow out of them and that she is doing great for how tiny she is, but that does not change a mothers need to protect her child from everything or the need I have to make everything all right.

Scott and I have settled into a routine of spending time with her in the hospital and taking some time at the guest house for ourselves. But it also it had to make those decisions about how much time to spend there and when to leave and take time for ourselves. Most parents don’t “get” to be part time parents with fulltime babysitters watching their child. So we deal with the emotions of leaving her to be cared for by others (no matter that they are wonderful Doctors and nurses!) while we take a nap, eat lunch, or run and errand. We know that we have to take care of ourselves, because we need to be healthy for her and ready to take her home whenever she is ready. So I struggle with some guilt over taking time for myself but also trying to remind myself that “normal” mothers get to have their new babies at home to snuggle with, nap with, and just be at home with. While Scott and I have to visit our daughter in the hospital and wait for her to be strong enough to go home. So we are hanging in there, we know that their will continue to be emotional highs and lows, but as long as we stick together we can get through them all.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy One Week Birthday Calla

Calla is one week old and we celebrated with some cupcakes for the NICU nurses that have been taking great care of Calla and she wore her first litttle pink outfit, doesn't she look so cute. We are also celebrating that Calla has gained almost 40 grams of weight over the past two days. She is almost back up to her birth weight. She is doing everything just right.

Mom and Dad also gave Calla her first sponge bath today. I think it was a little tramatizing to Calla and Mom. It sounded like we were torturing her, she has never grabed both of our hands so tight. I think it is safe to say that she did not like her first bath. But then Calla got some chest to chest time with both Mom and Dad and she calmed down pretty quickly.
Calla has been doing great, but she is still having a lot of episodes were she stops breathing for a second and her heart rate goes way down. She is able to come out of them on her own and it is totaly normal for premature babies to do this, but it is still really scary.

We hope everyone is doing well and we thank everyone for the calls and emails. We are sorry we can not answer them all right now. It is amazing how fast the days are going by hanging out in the NICU with little Calla. It is hard to believe we have been down in Eugene for 10 days now.
Well that is it for now, it is time to get some sleep, goodnight.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Mother’s Story – All About Milk

Wow, the days continue to fly by with visits with Calla, visits with friends and family, maybe a nap, and lots and lots of pumping. I want to write a little bit about what happened a few days before my water broke and then the great accomplishments of my daughter over the last few days. For those of you that don’t know much about having babies, before you get your milk you get a pre-milk substance called colustrum. Well for me I actually starting leaking colustrum a few days before my water broke. So in some way my body new what was about to happen and was prepared to provide food for my little girl as soon as she was born. In the NICU here they try to only feed breastmilk to the babies, this is because it is the most beneficial. So because my milk came in so quickly Calla has been able to get only my milk since she was born, which will help grow and get healthy faster. I actually began producing milk on Friday, just three days after Calla was born. I have actually produced an abundance of milk and besides having space in the fridge we also now have freezer space. Breastmilk is good in the refrigerator for 48 hours and then needs to be frozen and can be kept for up to 6 months. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to produce enough food for my little girl when she really needs it. Pumping might not let me get much sleep (I do it every three hours day and night), but nothing beasts being able to provide for my little girl!

So enough about that part, now on to my amazing daughter. When they feed Calla at 9am and 9pm I try to be there and hold her. When they start to feed her I bring her down to my breast so that she can begin to associate a full tummy with breast feeding. She has been very willing to lick breast milk from my breast, which is a big accomplishment for a premature baby. Tonight she did even better. After taking a few licks she actually opened her mouth wide enough and latched on to the nipple for almost a minute. It was a big accomplishment for such a little girl. And or course she fell asleep quickly after. One of the most peaceful parts of the day is the evening time. Tonight after she fell asleep against my chest it was just so quite and peaceful, it is the perfect way to end a day.
It is been so amazing to see her progress during this last week. I can’t wait to see where she is headed in the next week. I will continue to encourage her to associate breast feeding with a full tummy and maybe soon she will actually be strong enough to try it.

On another note from Sunday to Monday was the first time that Calla did not lose weight, she gained a whole 7 grams!!! You can truly see that we celebrate the small accomplishments in our new life.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Calla had another good day today. She has been digesting all of the milk she has been given, 1oz every 3 hours is put into her stomach through a tube in her mouth. And she has had several moments every day of being really awake the last two days. She will have both eyes wide open and will follow the voices with her eyes that are talking to her. When she hears her mom and dad she gets a big grin on her face. I will try and video tape her tomorrow and post it.

Calla is trying to figure out how to snuggle with her dad without getting a mouth full of chest hair.

Calla had her first visitors today. Our good friend Leslie from Tacoma came down to meet Calla and hang out for a couple of hours. And then our neighbors Jeff, Rebbeca, and Calder came down to meet Calla and have dinner.

I just thought I would show you all pictures of Calla's little corner and some of the signs the nurses and another mother in NICU made Calla. She also has a few animals watching over her.

The bird below is wearing a bead that was blessed by the Dalai Lama himself, while he was in Tacoma, WA last week. Our friend Leslie came down today from Tacoma and gave Calla the bead for good luck, so she has got that going for her. She can not wear it right now, so Birdie is taking care of it for her.
This is the quilt that was given to Calla by a group called Quilts of Hope. They make quilts for high risk babies in the NICU. It works great to darken her isolette and personalize her space.

Goodnight, it is time to get some rest now. Thanks for everyone's thoughts and prayers.

A Mother’s Story

Hi all. I am going to try and write about my feelings and experiences every few days or so. So much happens each and every day that just makes me so proud to be Calla’s mother. Some of you might notice the time of this posting. After I pumped at 11:30 I could not fall back asleep, I kept thinking about how I was at the Corvallis hospital and then in an ambulance this time last week and two weeks ago Scott and I were in Ohio at a baby shower. What a wild ride. I thought I would take the time to do some writing and then hopefully fall soundly asleep.
A few comments from the staff here today include:
“None of us can believe that she was really only 30 weeks when she was born, she is doing great.”
“She looks really strong.”
“She is a fighter.”

I thought I would write a little about the first few days after she was born. Right after she was born I got to hold her for about a minute and then she and Scott left with the NICU staff to get evaluated. In the NICU she was put on many machines and IV’s. One of the tubes went through her umbilical cord. This is a very sensitive area and we were unable to hold her while it was in place. On Wed. am we were told it would come out because she as doing so well, but it would still be the afternoon until we could hold her. Around 1:30 while my mom and Scott were doing some errands a nurse from the NICU came down and told me she was awake and ready to be held. So on Wed. afternoon I held my daughter for the first time and cried as she opened up her eyes and looked at me. The nurses were so wonderful, they had a box of tissues and a camera ready so that the moment was captured. Scott arrived shortly and was there for this wonderful moment.

On Thursday I was discharged from the hospital, this was both a good thing and an emotionally draining experience. Peace Health Hospital has a very busy labor and delivery floor and as a result my recovery room was shared with another couple that had twins in the NICU. This makes for very little sleep and privacy during a stressful time. (They are opening a new hospital in August with all private rooms, we were just a little early). So I was very ready for some privacy and some sleep, but was not ready to leave the hospital without my little girl. All these feelings were increased by seeing family after family safely place their children in their car seats and head out the door. When the time came to leave and move the 2 blocks to the Guest House I cried all the way to the NICU and stood over her incubator and just let the tears flow. Scott and the nurses just held me and let me cry and reassured me that I would not be leaving my daughter for long. I made it through this moment, but learned early that there will be many emotional highs and lows through this experience. The highlight of this day was traveling only 2 blocks to the Lions Club Guest House where we were given our own room with a private bathroom and told “make yourself at home, this is your home now for as long as you need it.” What reassuring words when they were so needed.

Daily Scott and I are getting more comfortable around all the tubes and bells and whistles that surround our daughter. We are now pros at changing diapers through openings in the incubator, can check her body temperature and get her in and out of the incubator with ease. All of these things are thanks to the help and encouragement of the wonderful nurses here. They want us to feel comfortable around our daughter and we cannot thank them enough for their kind words of encouragement and help each and every day.

I think that is enough for now and that I am ready to fall asleep. Thank you all as always for all your kind thoughts and prayers for Scott, Calla, and myself.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday, April 19

Grandma Cindy got to hold little Calla for the first time today and I think she enjoyed bonding with her newest grandchild.

I think she has the Culpepper/Drake feet. Her Uncle Tom wears size 15 shoes.

We are starting to get into somewhat of a routine now of visiting and holding Calla during her feedings, but still giving her time to sleep and grow. They keep uping the amount of milk she gets every day and she keeps drinking all of it down. She is a good eater so far.

We would like to start having visitors so please give us a call and we can set up visiting times with Calla. And if anyone would like to come have a beer please give Scott a call.

Friday, April 18 - Evening

Our beautiful baby girl.

Mom and Calla enjoy some snuggle time.

Calla's bed. She received a quilt from the nurses in the NICU.

Look how much Calla loves her daddy!!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Good night Calla

Goodnight everyone!

Courtney's Comments

Hello Everyone. I want you all to know how much Scott and I have appreciated your phone calls, emails, thoughts, and prayers. This has been a week filled with emotional highs and lows and I think we are both looking forward to finding a routine over the next few weeks. I thought I would share a few of my thoughts from the last few days.

As you all know now Scott and I found ourselves in the Corvallis hospital on Saturday night, expecting to be told we were overreacting and to be sent home. Instead I was quickly evaluated by the nurses and Doctors and told that my water had broken and that I was in labor. Things then happened very very quickly as they are not equiped to deliver babies at 30 weeks. I was taken via ambulance and Scott followed in the car to Eugene. It was a very scary ride as I was having contractions the entire time and was still in shock over what was happening. I can't say enough wonderful things about the nurses from the Corvallis hospital. One rode down with me and talked to me the entire time and helped keep me calm. Scott arrived about when I did and we were taken to an evaluation room. There it was determined that I was already 3cm dialated so I was put on bed rest and drugs to stop the contractions. Both the nurses and the doctor thought I would deliver Sunday am, but thanks to the drugs and a little help from Calla we held off until Tuesday. Sunday through Tuesday were full of times when I felt great, with no contractions, and times when I was having mild to hard contractions. Then of course, just as they moved us out of labor and delivery, thinking I was stable, I started having regular contractions, and in 3 hours I went from 4cm to 10 and holding my little girl. It was a wild ride and Scott never left my side. He kept me calm and was an amazing birth partner. Calla might only be three days old but Scott and I have already learned the art of compromise with her. There will be many more challenges over the next few weeks, but Scott and I know we can handle them together and with the support of all of our friends and family.
Yes, Calla Elizabeth Shaff had her Way and decided to take on the world 10 weeks early. It has been quite the ride since Saturday at around 10:30pm. Courtney started to feel some contractions so we called the hospital and they told us to come in. We figured they would tell us to go home, but instead told us that Courtney was in labor and they wisked us down to Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene, since they have a great NICU. Courtney in an ambulance and me following closely behind in the Corolla. They were able to slow down the labor and we settled into the hospital for a couple of days while Courtney had contraction off and on everyday until Tuesday, April 15 around 3pm. Then Courtney went into active labor and everything happened really fast. Then at 6:08pm Calla Elizabeth Shaff came into the world.

She weighed in at 3 lbs. 2 oz. and 15 3/4 inches. I am not sure how long we are going to say Courtney was in labor, either 3 hours or 68 hours? Anyway you put it, Courtney did an amazing job! Courtney and little Calla are doing great.

Calla is doing great and got off her oxygen tube attached to her nose on Thursday morning. And we found out this morning she is going to get off of her IV tube that is in her hand this afternoon. So she now has a lot fewer wires and tubes attached to her than the first few days, but still quite a few though. Courntey and I have been able to hold her to our chest everyday and that has been amazing.

Here are a few pictures from this morning below. This was the most awake she has been after layng on Daddy's chest with both eyes opened and just looking at Mom, Grandma Cindy, and Dad being very content. It was the first time I felt that we got to truely meet her.
She is already growing so fast.

Thank you everyone for all the support you have offered us though you thoughts, prayers, phone calls, and emails. We really appreciate all of it and is helping us get though all of this. Calla will probably be in the NICU for 5-6 weeks, so we still have a lot ahead of us. But for now the doctors tell us she is at the top of her class and is a strong little girl. We checked out of the hospital yesterday and are now staying at the Lion's Club Guest house which is an amazing place for people to stay while they have loved ones in the hospital. It is the same thing as a Ronald McDonald House if you are familar with that. All we have to say is that is an amazing service and we now have our favorite charity!

That is it for now becasue I have to go see my little girl. I will post more thoughts and pictures in the near furture.