Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Giraffe Bed?

I know, it sounds strange to most, but this really is what they are called.  For those who are confused, a Giraffe Bed is a special "all-in-one" habitat for premature babies.

I'll try to explain why this is meaningful to us.

On August 9th our family will be joining hundreds of other families with children who spent time in the Huntsville Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  The purpose is to raise money for these special beds in order to maximize the healing and growing that takes place in this special unit.  It will be a fun day of fellowship and sharing stories... and of course lots of swimming!

Although Abby is too small to swim on a team, she will be participating with many other "little" swimmers in the effort to raise as much money as possible for other tiny preemies. 

 It wasn't that long ago that Abby lived in a Giraffe bed.  It provided the best environment for her to rest, to safely be on the ventilator, to have the NICU noises muffled, and to be easily accessible for the nurses and docs.  With the lid closed Abby had humidified warm air pumped in all around her.  This protected her delicate skin.  Most of the time there was a cover draped over the bed to provide darkness, more peaceful sleeping and protection for her immature eyes.

There were four port holes that we could stick our hands in to change diapers, touch her and cover her head with a beanie animal if she was restless.  Offering her tiny paci was another excuse for us to reach in to her environment.

In case of an emergency with her stats, the lid could be quickly and automatically lifted high above our heads for complete access to our baby.  This happened many times. After surgeries it was just left up while it provided radiant heat to keep her warm down below.

These are a few pics of Abby in her "castle," as the nurses called it!

Abby in her first outfit (notice the bear in the above picture... Abby's wearing her dress!)

Abby recovering after 3 surgeries in 24 hours.

Corie, Abby's special primary nurse, standing by Abby's Giraffe bed with the cover on.

All this description just to say that we recognize the important role these special beds played in our preemies' NICU stay, and that we long to help other babies like Abby!

Check out Abby's Page on the Swim for Melissa Donation site!  If you feel led to help us raise money for this special cause, you can easily do so from Abby's page.

Thanks so much to all of you who care so much about our girl!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

We're at the Beach!

We are all having a blast in Florida!  Gazing out over the ocean, taking walks in the sand, playing in the pool... and of course eating!

This morning Patrick and I took a kayak out for a dolphin search.  Once we got into the deeper water there weren't any dolphins, but tons of jellyfish!!  Yikes!  They were beautiful to watch gliding with the waves.  We were soo glad to be IN the boat.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Glaucoma update

We saw the glaucoma specialist last week.  Several good things came out of the visit.  The doctor used two more methods of examining her eyes in addition to the one used at her retina check up (applanation tonometry).  

He used a tiny ultrasound placed on her eye ball to measure pressure and consistently got numbers in the 30's.  This was good.  Then he measured the thickness of her cornea and found it to be abnormally thick (615 microns)... which is also good. Any measurement more than 600 microns is unusually thick, and less than 500 microns is considered thin.

In Abby's case her cornea's are thick because of multiple surgeries, which in turn makes the first pressure test higher than it should be.  The doctor also thinks that the eye drops have caused some improvement.

Another eye drop was added to our regimen and we are scheduled to see him again in one month.  He will measure the eye again and re-evaluate where to go from there.  We are all very hopeful that the drops will keep her pressures low enough (20 or below).  If they persist above 30 with the two drops then we might have to consider the surgery.  For now the doc said she shouldn't be able to feel any discomfort from her pressures and he hopes to see improvements in 4 weeks!!

We all came away from the appointment very encouraged and hopeful, but will still be in prayer for healing of this problem.

Another fun note:

Madison has opened a playground for special needs children!  It has been a project our family has been involved with this past year along with several other families.  The ribbon cutting ceremony was held last Wednesday and we got to see the park for the first time.

One of the goals we all had for this park was for typical children (siblings, family, friends) to be able to play along side children with various special needs.  I think it was accomplished!  Our favorite part is the different kinds of swings.  Abby can easily swing in at least 3 of them.  She and I went down the slide together, while Josiah tried to shoot hoops in the adjusted basketball goal.  

We really enjoyed getting to play while watching other kids that we have gotten to know do things that would be extremely difficult at a regular play ground!  The idea was spearheaded by a young lady who lives in our city.  She was born with Spina Bifida and her mobility is limited to a wheel chair.  She got to swing for the first time in a specially designed "wheel chair swing".  
Some times it's the simplest things in life that bring the most joy.

The Huntsville Times ran a story about the park, and news channel 19 also aired a short section about it.  We missed the news report but did get a copy of the paper.

The pictures aren't very clear, but we forgot our camera on opening day and wanted to give an idea of what it looks like.

This past weekend we headed up to Oak Ridge/Knoxville for our yearly vacation with my sister Christy and her family!  We all had a blast.  

Pictures of our weekend coming up soon!