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We all know skin to skin, the smell and sound of mommy and even white noise like a heart beat can make baby feel safer once they reach the outside world. Recently, they have done research that discovered that tentacles of crochet octopuses for preemies made babies feel safer as well. They reminded the baby of the umbilical cord they played with in the womb. A group in Denmark, Spruttegruppen, started a group that started making these octopuses and sending them to Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU’s) all over their country.
Their idea has spread! There are approximately 31 countries participating in this amazing cause now. When these octopuses are donated to NICU’s, it’s highly recommended to go to the Facebook group for that country to ensure the octopus is made up to standard. These are sick little babies after all, so some care and precaution definitely needs to be taken. I know when Lily was in the NICU I didn’t want to put anything in her bed with her, so if I was going to, I’d want to know if was safe first! (you can read about Lily’s story here)
Here’s a list of all the Octopus for a Preemie project countries and their websites. The pattern is actually really easy. I can usually make one in a couple hours (I like to crochet while watching hockey with my husband and I can finish one in a game and a half!)
I love crocheting, so I started making these little guys for friends and family who were having little ones. Then I started getting orders from people! I’ve donated to babies in the NICU, and I’ve been able to sell them too. They aren’t just great for preemies, they’re good for any newborn and toddlers love them as well. I made 2 for my daughters for their Easter baskets and they were so excited! You can take a look at my Facebook page LilyMags & Co for more information.
You can find more similar patters here at Craftsy.
Being in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) is hard, it’s a roller coaster. No one’s birth plan involves spending extra days or weeks in the hospital. You expect to have a healthy baby and go home. Well, it doesn’t always go that way. Here’s a verse from the Bible and a quote I found helpful during our stay in the hospital with Lily.
Proverbs 16:9 NASB
We had a birth plan and it did not go that way. We can make all the best laid out plans in the world, but at the end of the day, it’s the Lord that directs our steps. It may not be the steps we expected or wanted to take, but He walks through with us every single step of the way. I would wish the NICU on no one, but we did see a miracle or two happen while we were there and it’s a privilege to have experienced that and I wouldn’t change it for anything!
This is a line from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Nights Dream” (Act 3 Scene 2) This is so true of my sweet little girl. She was so little! (Read her story here) She was only 2lbs 3oz when she was born. Her diapers were the size of a small women’s maxi pad! I have one still, I should post a picture of it sometime. But she fought, and she fought and she fought. She overcame so many things in our time there. How this little girl could be so feisty and full of fight was incredible to me every single day. I still marvel at it! This quote was a part of my daily mantra. I have it on her birth plaque and any time I find a shirt that has this quote on it, I buy it for her!!
If you or someone you know if going through a tough hospital stay right now, leave me a comment or contact me by email. It’s so hard, but there are others who have been there. Connecting with others at the hospital in the same situation and with others who had been there before was HUGE for me as well. You don’t have to do this alone, you shouldn’t do this alone!
I learned something new today… yesterday was World Preeclampsia Awareness Day! I wish I had known about it yesterday. This is a cause very dear to my heart and life. Both of my older sisters had preeclampsia in their pregnancies. My nieces were born about 4 weeks early because of it. I knew I was at a high risk, and was closely monitored throughout my pregnancies. I developed it in my first pregnancy at 29 weeks and had to give birth to my daughter via c-section that night as we were both in serious danger (you can read Lily’s amazing story here). My second pregnancy we made it to 35 weeks before running into problems again!
“a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby. It is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms.
Typically, preeclampsia occurs after 20 weeks gestation (in the late 2nd or 3rd trimesters or middle to late pregnancy) and up to six weeks postpartum (after delivery), though in rare cases it can occur earlier than 20 weeks. Proper prenatal care is essential to diagnose and manage preeclampsia.”
I was one of the ones who had few symptoms. I had noticed some spots of light in my vision, but it wasn’t too bad. Knowing I had an appointment with my doctor coming up, I just waited. When we look at pictures from just before Lily’s birth, you can definitely see that I’m looking a little swollen. But that’s not something you really notice looking at yourself in the mirror day to day. Obviously, looking back, I probably should have gone in earlier, but hindsight is 20/20, right? Thankfully we have our 2 healthy, happy girls.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
High blood pressure
Highs levels of protein in the urine
Very severe headaches
Blurring in vision (or any alteration)
Nausea or vomiting
Upper right side abdominal pain
Sudden onset of swelling or weight gain
Less urination than usual
Here is a great graphic from the Preeclampsia Foundation Canada that goes into more detail.
If you want more information, or have any questions, please feel free to send me a message or drop a comment below and I’ll respond as soon as I can. There is a lot more information on the Preeclampsia Foundation Canada (http://www.preeclampsiacanada.ca/). You can also donate to some of their life-saving research.
Here is their mandate:
Educate, support and empower women – and their friends and loved ones – on the warning signs, long term consequences and medical understanding, including their need to get timely care.
This is the incredible story of my preemie miracle (I may or may not be a little biased!)
Not today, God, please not today!
This is what was going through my head on the afternoon of October 16, 2014. Here I was lying in a hospital bed at Langley Memorial hospital hooked up to a fetal heart monitor, blood pressure monitor, IV and a catheter.
I had gone in for a scheduled prenatal visit with my Doctor that morning at 10:30am. But something wasn’t right. The nurse took my blood pressure twice and told me it was a little on the high side so she’d get the doctor to take another look at it. When he came in, he took my blood pressure again; it was high and they’d found protein in my urine. He sent me to the hospital for further tests. It didn’t really worry me too much.
So, I phoned my husband and told him not to come, it was just a couple tests and I’d call him if anything changed. They got me in pretty quickly and hooked me up to all the monitors. The OB came in and started telling me about preeclampsia and premature birth. We were only 29 weeks pregnant! It was completely shocking! I called my husband and said “You need to come now.”
By this time, magnesium was coursing through my veins to prevent having a seizure (risk of preeclampsia). They had started me on blood pressure medication to try getting my blood pressure down and gave me a steroid shot to help develop baby’s lungs in case she needed to be delivered that day. A transfer was being set up for me as Langley was not equipped to handle such a premature birth.
At about 3:00pm that afternoon, they arranged a transfer by ambulance to Surrey Memorial hospital who had a bigger NICU. I saw countless doctors and was under 24 hour surveillance by a nurse to make sure I didn’t seize. We had no idea what to expect. What’s the survival rate of a 29 week baby? Does she have to be born today? Finally, a Neonatologist come in to talk to us. She had one of her own kids at 30 weeks. It was so comforting to hear her tell us about how her daughter is thriving now. She told us there was about a 95% survival rate at 29 weeks. To have her talk to us as both a doctor and a mother who had been through exactly what we were going through was a big relief. Our baby was going to be born that night.
They prepped me for surgery and wheeled me into the operating room. I don’t even know how many nurses and doctors were in the room. Pete and I knew next to nothing about C-sections. It was one of the scariest moments of our lives. The epidural terrified me, but the anesthesiologist told me it wasn’t much worse than getting an IV. He lied, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. My husband was escorted into the room as I started to lose feeling in my body. Having a C-section is the most surreal experience! I felt pulling and the doctors moving things around, but no pain. I also felt the most unconditional love I have ever felt in my life. Here I was, literally giving myself up for my daughter. There is no greater love than that!
At 11:38pm our beautiful baby girl, Lily Ann Hultgren, came into this world and whisked away with the neonatal team. She weighed only 991 grams (2lbs 3oz). My husband went with her to the NICU; I wouldn’t be able to meet her until 24 hours later as I was still on the Magnesium and needed to be under a nurse’s watchful eye. I finally met Lily the next night around midnight. She was so tiny and precious; I was scared to even touch her, I thought for sure she would break!
They warned us the NICU would be a roller coaster ride and they were right! We had many ups; first time holding her, first bath, first experience breast feeding. And we had some pretty big downs as well. One night Lily stopped breathing completely and all the doctors and nurses were called in to come help her. Again, a true miracle she survived. They still don’t know what happened.
Looking back, none of this could have been done without the support of all the staff in the NICU. They are truly miracle workers!
We took Lily home on Christmas Eve 2014 after 69 long days in hospital. It was the best Christmas present we could have ever received, truly my preemie miracle!
I have a cousin who has been going through what I imagine would be hell this past year. She lost her youngest daughter in a car accident last summer. Her grief is palpable, but her faith is inspiring. She has written through all her range of feelings and emotions and it has been incredible to read. I haven’t asked her permission to share her blog post, so I’ll be keeping her anonymous. However, what she wrote the other day was truly amazing. It was based on the verse from the Bible Hebrews 6:19.
“Just as the anchor which holds a ship is not in the exact same place as the ship itself, our hope is not in this world. Rather, it is in a holier, greater place. Since Christ has gone ahead of us, in order to secure our salvation, we should have absolute confidence.”
I’m thankful my anchor is not in the same place as my boat. My boat gets tossed and turned by the waves of this world. But my anchor is secure with Christ in heaven.
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Looking for some tips for c-section Momma’s? Whether it’s for yourself or someone you know, I have 5 tips for c-section Momma’s to help you heal quickly and healthy in order to be the best Mom for your baby.
A very good childhood friend of mine had her first baby a few days ago. She ended up having a c-section after 3 courageous hours of pushing. It took me right back to the days of my 2 c-sections. I remember laying there on the table, not knowing quite what to expect, scared and excited all at the same time. My 2 cesareans were very different, the first was an emergency at 29 weeks and the second was much more expected as we had one scheduled (she still decided to come 3 weeks early though!)
Anyway… here are my 5 Tips for C-section Momma’s:
1.Listen to your body/Don’t push it:
As I said, my 2 c-sections were very different and I recovered from them very differently. Lily was hard and it took me a long time to recover. The whole thing was traumatizing as she was 11 weeks early and we didn’t know what would happen with our baby, if she’d be healthy or even survive. I really had to take my time recovering, I was in a lot of pain and my hubby pushed me around the hospital in a wheelchair for probably 10 days after. With Maggie, I bounced back WAY quicker. I thought it would be harder as I had a toddler to care for too now, and we have a billion stairs in our house, but I just listened to the way my body felt and I was lifting my toddler within a couple days of having my second.
2.Ask for and Accept help:
This is a hard one for most of us. We all want to be considered super-mom even though we’ve just had a baby and gone through major surgery. I had to swallow some of that pride and accept a lot of help, especially when Lily was in the hospital. I couldn’t drive for a few weeks, so I had to ask for rides to the hospital. My Aunt and my Mom cleaned my apartment before we were bringing Lily home. Our church community and friends brought us meals to eat at the hospital (we were beyond blessed by the Ronald McDonald family room at Surrey Memorial Hospital). My husband was actually between jobs when Maggie was born, so he helped A LOT. He pretty much did everything with Lily the first few weeks, so I could concentrate on taking care of Maggie. Don’t let your pride get in the way!
3. Keep your Follow-up Appointments
I know… you’ve had your baby and everything is done now (besides raising him or her to become a decent adult!) Wrong! There’s a reason follow up appointments are scheduled, especially after c-sections. There’s the risk of infection at the incision site. And did you know there’s something called postpartum preeclampsia (I had preeclampsia before Lily was born which is why she came so early… read her story here ) With preeclampsia, your blood pressure goes way up and your organs, starting with your kidneys start shutting down (you can read more about it in my post What is Preeclampsia). You are at a real risk of seizures. I’m not trying to scare anyone, but if you have that you probably would want to get it checked out.
You know what they say… sleep when the baby is sleeping. Well, do it! Our body does a lot of healing when we’re at rest. If you have other kids running around, ask for someone to watch them for a while so you can rest (see #2). Again, I was so lucky Pete was home after we had Maggie. I pretty much slept whenever she did (she was a horrible sleeper, so I took whatever I could get!)
In the NICU with Lily, the nurses encouraged me to go home and sleep in my own bed. Leaving your baby behind at the hospital is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and I wanted so badly to stay with her 24/7, but they were right. Even though I was up at home every 3 hours to pump, I got a much better sleep in my own bed then I would have on the couch in Lily’s hospital room.
5. Enjoy all the Newborn Snuggles
Seriously, who doesn’t love the smell of newborns?!? They are just so tiny and yummy! The only reason I want another baby is to smell that smell and have all the snuggles! No more babies here though… I just have to steal other people’s! The NICU encourages lots of skin to skin with your baby as studies have shown it to help improve the outcomes of premature babies. I don’t know if there are any studies on it, but I think it helps the Momma heal as well! It’s good for your soul.
I just want to end off by saying, you are no less of a mother because you had a C-section. I know there is a grieving period when your birthing plan does not go as planned (does it ever?) but, you did what was best for your baby and that is what being a Momma is all about. You sacrificed your body to be cut open for your little one to be born. How does that make you any less or a warrior mom?