Sunday, December 21, 2008


I can breathe today. For the first time Elena and I made eye contact. OK, well I'm exaggerating, but she totally opened her eyes today and was super alert and had her eyes fixed on me. I know she probably can't really and totally see me, but she knew I was there and she locked in on me when she did open her eyes. This was the most alert we have seen her. I am ecstatic and have been smiling since I saw her. She is stable now, oxygen pretty low and still intubated, but the universe has delivered her a nurse.

Yesterday I finally met Monica the nurse. She is a NICU nurse that was present when Wong the guru respiratory specialist put Elena on the the jet ventilator to clear up her PIE. Monica learned Elena's settings directly from Wong and claims she went home that night and researched all about jet ventilators. This was last week Monday.

I arrived to the hospital yesterday and found a little note card attached to Elena's incubator that stated how Elena should be cared for because she is labile (changeable) and prone to going way down on oxygen absorption. It noted at what level to suction Elena, to turn up oxygen settings when changing her, suctioning her and I thought to myself, who took this upon themselves to do this?

It was Monica. Monica was thorough with me, explained as well as she could Elena's setbacks, progress and how to understand her new machine. This is also the nurse that Elena was smacking last week. Anyhow, Monica expressed that she knew the jet well and that she was there when Wong was setting Elena up and that she knew what Elena liked, did not like, etc.

She then told me I could speak with the charge nurse, who is responsible for which nurses take care of the babies, and request Monica be Elena's primary nurse which means that whenever Monica works, she is Elena's caretaker/nurse. So that's what I did yesterday.

When I arrived today Monica was working and I almost cried when I looked at Elena. Monica did a thorough scrub down on Elena who had been boogery, dry and generally needed to be cared for, like I would. Elena was glowing. Her dead skin was gone, no crusty blood or boogers in her nose, her hair had been wiped down and Bacitracin added to the places where she had dried skin that turned into scabs.

Elena is responding to Monica's care and getting better. This was a good weekend for Elena who is now less ornery and irritable (apparently preemies with respiratory distress are generally irritable) and I am basking in Elena's progress today.

Tomorrow is a big day for Elena, as most Mondays and Fridays the doctors make big decisions on care for the week.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Famous Premature Babies

Sidney Poitier

Johannes Kepler: German astronomer and mathematician. Born 1571. Lived 59 years. Estimated I.Q. 160. He had a bad start in life as he was a seven month baby and seven month babies were proverbially thought to be weak in body and mind. As he grew, however, his body became strong and his superior intellect evolved. He became the Principal Mathematician to the Emperor and a founder of modern astronomy and physics. He elucidated the Copernican concept of the Universe.

Sir Isaac Newton: British mathematician, astronomer, and physicist. Born 1642. Lived 85 years. Estimated I.Q. 170. On Christmas Day in the house of Woolthrope, a three pound baby, newly born, rested on a pillow near his mother. He was alive but fighting for breath. Frightened old midwives went for the doctor remarking, "The baby's as good as dead. It's a miracle if he lives until we get back. Such a tiny mite, he is." Later Isaac would remember fondly his mother's remark, "You were so tiny that you might have been put into a quart mug!" This tiny mite came to be known as one of the greatest scientific geniuses of all time.

Francois Marie Arouet De Voltaire: French philosopher, writer. Born 1694. Lived 84 years. Estimated I. Q. 180. On the day of his birth, because of poor chance of living, he was hurriedly baptized. The nurses had slapped him to life. Every morning they would come down from the attic (where the young one was kept) saying that he would not live an hour. The puny little boy, however, defied their morbid expectations. Voltaire is considered as a rare genius.

Samuel Johnson: British poet, critic, lexicographer. Born 1709. Lived 75 years. Estimated 1. Q. 155. Sarah Johnson was 40 when she gave birth to her first son on the afternoon of a cold September day. The labor was long and difficult. His father, a 52 year old bookseller, greeted him: "Here is a brave boy." The infant was, however, strangely inert and had no cry but finally, with persuasion, he made a few whimpers, breaking a long silence. Fearing impending death he was christened that evening. This inert boy lived to become one of the world's most important English lexicographers and literary critics. His conversational wit and the style of his essays are legendary.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe: German poet. Born 1749. Lived 83 years. Estimated 1. Q. 200. When he was 75, Goethe remarked, ". . . there has been nothing but toil and tumble (for me), . . . throughout my 75 years. I have not had 9 months of real freedom from care." His 18 year old mother suffered three days of mortal agony before the baby was delivered. He looked so lifeless and miserable that he was thought to be stillborn. For hours they rubbed his body with wine until, finally, he opened his eyes and lived.

Thomas Hardy: English writer. Born 1840. Lived 88 years. At birth he was thrown aside as dead, but the midwife exclaimed to the surgeon, "Dead, Sir! Stop a minute. He is alive enough, sure." A good slapping from her revived the baby who later became a prestigious English novelist and poet. Sir Winston Churchill: British statesman. Born 1874. Lived 91 years. He was not expected to be born until sometime in January of the following year. He upset a ball by his early birth on November 30. He had good lungs, for the Duchess of Marlborough shook her head and observed, "I have myself given life of quite a number of infants-such an earth shaking noise as this newborn baby made, I have never heard."

Pablo Picasso: Spanish artist. Born 1881. Lived 92 years. The sun-drenched seaport of Malaga on Spain's Mediterranean coast was the scene of his dramatic birth on October 25. The midwife judged the child just born to be dead and left him on the table while attending to his mother. Uncle Don Salvador, an experienced physician, resuscitated the little one and saved this future great artist.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: United States President. Born 1882. Lived 63 years. Sara Delano Roosevelt was in great agony from a long and difficult delivery and an overdose of chloroform nearly ended her life and that of her baby boy. The infant had a "death-like respiratory standstill, the skin blue and body limp." Mouth-to-mouth breathing revived the 10 pound baby. Years later, his mother would recall, ,'. . . too much of chloroform was nearly fatal to us ... the nurse said later she never expected the baby to live." Elected to four terms as president of the United States, Roosevelt occupies an important place in modern American history.

Anna Pavlova: Ballerina. Born 1885. Lived 46 years. As a premature infant she ". . . was so weak and puny that her parents had her baptized three days after birth. She spent most of her time in the next few months . . . wrapped in cotton wool." She ultimately became and was proclaimed the worlds's most famous ballerina.

D(avid) H(erbert) Lawrence: English writer. Born 1885. Lived 45 years. He was a frail child at birth and at two weeks of age he developed a severe attack of bronchitis. He remained, in his own words, "a delicate brat with a stuffy nose, whom most people treated quite gently as just an ordinary little lad." D. H. Lawrence ranks among the most influential literary figures of the 20th century. At 45, he died of tuberculosis.

Charles Darwin: British Naturalist (1809-1882)

John Keats: Poet (1795-1821)

Mark Twain

Napoleon Bonaparte

Renoir: Painter (1841-1919)

Sir Winston Churchill: Churchill was born two months premature in Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire (1874-1965).

Stevie Wonder

Thomas Hobbes: Philosopher (1588-1679)

Victor Hugo: French Poet and Novelist (1802-1885)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Philosopher (1712-1778)

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm addicted

Yesterday my sister asked me to get a picture of Elena because she needed a fix and it reminded me that I am totally addicted to her as well. I cannot get enough; I can stand at Elena's bedside for hours just staring and when I leave her I start to spiral down. Is it bad to be addicted to my kid? Are all mothers addicted to their kids?

That's my girl!

If I ever doubted Elena's strength then I stand to be corrected. Andrew went to the hospital this evening and apparently the little one fought the nurse this morning, with her hands (LMAO).

She sparred with her nurse and the doctors as they were working on her, and managed to remove the tape from her intubation- I watched her attempt this a few days ago. All I can say is, at the very least she is physically strong and won't take any sh**.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Elena Marie is stable. That is all we can hope for and she is maintaining. We celebrated her one week birthday yesterday.

She received more help today, that is, a stronger ventilator. While this is bad, it is also good because she finally responded well to the extra help and she's doing better. It will now be a few additional steps to wean her off intubation entirely (which we hadn't anticipated), but I have to look at it like it's a success rather than a setback. Although we had to give her more help, she progressed a great deal with the help she received and according to the doctors, she instructs us what she needs.

We are putting our faith in her because she is guiding us and all we can do is ride along with it.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Although I never made it clear to everyone, please feel free to comment, testify, or whatever. If you have something negative to say, do like your momma says and keep it to yourself.

The little Buddhist

Well, last night they tried to wean Baby Elena from being intubated (I think that's how you spell it). Although she came out the womb breathing on her own, that didn't last long. She had to get intubated with oxygen assistance. Her little unsteady lungs needed some help. So for the past 5 days she's been on tubes making progress little by little. At Columbia-Pres they try to get babies off intubation as soon as possible. The doctors liked her progress as of yesterday and said hey, let's take her off intubation and try nose prongs sending her oxygen.

Well Miss Elena has her own plans. She was unable to coordinate breathing, she just wouldn't keep her mouth closed, and retained too much C02, so, they re-intubated her.

This is a minor setback and I keep saying to myself, Elena and the universe have bigger plans for me I guess. I am in Buddhist bootcamp. I am learning to eliminate my carnal fears and let go. She is teaching me: rather than grope for an outcome, just know. Like Neo in the Matrix, "there is no spoon."

Things will get better.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Welcome Elena Marie

Hello all. This website is being created to chart the progress of our beautiful and brave girl Elena Marie who was born December 6, 2008. She was an early surprise and gift to us and we are thankful.

Elena was born at just 2.2 pounds, 3 months and 3 days early, delivered by C-section by the best high risk ob/gyn doctors at Columbia New York Presbyterian Hospital. I had arrived just days earlier (Thursday) with ruptured membranes, leaking amniotic fluid. On Saturday, December 6th at about 9:00pm, the doctors made the call and said, we're gonna get her out. Within a half hour they had me on the operating table.

Elena came out the womb breathing on her own at 26.5 weeks; we were ecstatic. Overnight however, she took a turn for the worse and needed respiratory assistance which is not uncommon when born at this age.

While we were over the moon about being parents, we were/are terrified about what was/is to come over the course of her growth. We were told, "she'll probably be in here until her due date." And so is the ebb and flow of premature baby development, a continuum of ups and downs that are so low yet can be so high.

We want to thank everyone who has shared their love, empathy and prayers for Baby Elena (as she has come to be called).

Thanks again, we love you all.

Johnita & Andrew