It’s 2015! And before I can think about what I’m looking forward to this year, I need to share what I am grateful for the past year. God, family, friends, church, ministry are constants, but there are 3 specific things that stand out about my 2014. I want to begin with the obvious – Gianna.
Oh, my Kaitlin Gianna. God has blessed me with such a beautiful baby girl! She was born on August 12, via c-section, and right away we noticed that she didn’t cry continuously. Danae and Noelle were both big cryers, but Gianna had a gentle cry and was just quiet some of the time. She was fair and chubby at 3.1kilograms. It was the first time I experienced “skin to skin” and immediate latching with my baby almost as soon as she came out of my womb (they cleaned her a bit first). They didn’t do that with my first two, maybe because it was in a different hospital.
Another great thing about St. Luke’s is they consider the mom and the baby as one unit. Where mommy goes, baby goes too. At first I wasn’t too happy about it because I’ve experienced rooming in and not rooming in the baby, and rooming in exhausted me. But then I figured it wouldn’t be so bad. It was best for baby.
Gianna was with me in the recovery room, where I stayed a few hours because my blood pressure was not yet stable. I was there so long that I thought to ask the nurse if she could bring Gianna out to meet her sisters. She accommodated me, even though she couldn’t contact King right away. The sisters met for the first time that night, before the two big sisters went off to stay with my in-laws.
I didn’t get to see my older girls that night anymore because we were moved into my room really late. Our first night with Gianna was good. She cried, but she would latch onto my breast fairly easily, and then she would fall asleep. The nurses were helpful in changing her nappy. By morning, however, a doctor came in to tell us some news.
The doctors extracted blood from Gianna while I was in recovery to run some tests. I can’t remember if it was protocol or a precaution or both, but I never expected the results we got. Gianna’s white blood cell count was markedly high, about 25,000 more than normal. They said clinically, she was alright, but her white blood cell count could not be ignored. She had to be given AT LEAST one week’s worth of antibiotics intravenously, and the hospital policy was for her to be monitored in the NICU. They took her away that morning.
All day I could not go down to breastfeed her because the catheter was still in me. Good thing they sell pasteurized breast milk in the hospital so they could feed Gianna. They are very strict about giving babies breast milk –- no formula and no sugar water. As soon as they removed the catheter late that night, I went to see my little love. It felt good to hold her again, but it hurt to see her on IV. On her third day in the NICU, I saw that she had nothing connected to her, and the nurse said they were going to reinsert AND draw blood. I couldn’t help but cry for her at that point. It was my first time to have a child stay in the NICU.
It was also sad that the two other girls could not visit their sister in the NICU. Children not allowed.
In the NICU, the pedia extracted Gianna’s blood so they could do a blood culture. After the first day upto the last (I forget how many days were necessary), no growth had formed in the blood culture. Her bilirubin levels (jaundice) were also high but not high enough to require phototherapy. They also extracted blood to check her white blood cell count again after so and so days. What was supposed to be 7 days of antibiotics became only 5 days! It was not any particular infection, but we were just grateful that nothing worse came up. She entered the NICU on a Wednesday and was discharged on a Sunday. We were able to go home the next day!
We had some issues during the first two months. Gianna lost weight on her first two weeks of life. We got concerned because although it is normal for an infant to lose a little weight after being born, Gianna still did not gain weight after two weeks. I was still emotional and all, and it made me sad to even consider giving her formula at such a young age. I was determined, however, to help increase my milk supply by eating more malunggay and being faithful in taking my malunggay supplements. By our next appointment, she had already gained weight!
I was so happy to hear about the weight gain, but then at 5 or 6 weeks, her jaundice had not disappeared. Daily morning sunning for about two weeks should have done the trick, but it didn’t. The pedia required a blood extraction to check her bilirubin levels again. The result was extremely high. If I remember correctly, the normal range is .2 to 1 (I don’t know the unit of measurement, sorry). Gianna’s was in the mid twenties! I was ordered to stop breastfeeding for a while.
It was inconvenient, because I had to pump my milk to keep the supply going (I would much rather feed directly) and wash bottles and all that, but I obeyed. I was concerned that Gianna wouldn’t take to the bottle and the formula, but to my surprise, we had no problems. It was a first for me to give my baby formula so early and she was/is the first among the three girls to be okay with drinking from a bottle.
My poor baby girl had to go through more blood extractions that week. King was the brave one who held her through it. My heart could not take the sight of her getting hurt. I just comforted her afterwards. Thank God her bilirubin levels went down enough that we did not need to confine her for phototherapy, and it was a confirmation that her jaundice was caused by breast milk and not problems in her liver. I also finally got the go signal to go back to full breastfeeding!
SUCH A HAPPY BABY
Gianna is now nearly 5 months old. She is healthy and strong, and she is such a happy baby. We immediately noticed her smiling while she was asleep as a newborn, and when she was about a month old, she smiled in response to our voices and faces. I was even honestly concerned about her eyesight because she wouldn’t focus on my eyes. I remember the two older girls looking at me while breastfeeding, and Gianna did not seem to be doing that. What a joy it was to finally lock eyes with her when she was more than a month old! And now the looks that she gives me – oh so heart melting. She looks, sometimes stares at me, and then when I acknowledge her, she gives me the sweetest smile. And she ALWAYS does this, even when I’m across the table from her. Sometimes she stops from feeding to give me a smile haha. That always makes me giggle in glee.
The way she responds to King and her sisters is just priceless too. She likes to “talk” to and “sing” with King. I guess she knows how loved she is. Her sisters can’t get enough of her, and she most of the time doesn’t mind being “man-handled” haha. She reaches for and touches our faces now when we are near her. She just really makes our hearts smile.
Her cries are louder now, but she’s still a very good baby. She enjoys her mini baths, although she didn’t at first haha. I’m excited to get her a bathtub and see her enjoy being IN the water. Sometimes she’s just quiet in bed or her carrier, checking out her surroundings, and so I get to eat and not get frazzled when we’re out (well most of the time, haha). She’s usually calm when I change her diapers too. I literally thank her for being such a good baby.
When she wakes from sleep, as long as she has had enough sleep, she doesn’t cry. I catch her awake, entertaining herself with either looking at the light, checking out her hands, or “talking” and kicking her legs. And then that smile…..sigh. She has started laughing too, but we find that a tad difficult to elicit haha. It’s such a joy to wake up seeing this pretty baby beside me every morning. Weird, but I really feel so loved when I see her.
Just like her sisters’ first names, her first name Katilin means pure. Gianna means God is gracious. And God has certainly been gracious to us, blessing us with such a beautiful princess. I am just so grateful for her. I can’t wait to witness God display His grace in and through Gianna’s life. 🙂