Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekend Fun

My first "real" bath!

Frances is doing so well at home and seems to really be settling into a nice routine (and everyone knows I love routine!).  Her eating has picked up to where she is taking in about 75-100 more cc's each day than she was last week so I feel very confident we are moving in the right direction regarding weight gain.

Eleanor and Frances

Frances and Jack

 Frances has had quite a busy few days meeting new friends.  On Friday, her friend Eleanor came over to show off some of her baby tricks.  Eleanor's mom Leslie is one of my best friends, so these girls will be spend a lot of time together- including a girls beach trip this summer!  Our nieces Lyndy and Kay finally got to come see Frances and boy were they excited!  Frances got LOTS of love from the girls.  Lyndy loves to help with babies and Kat tested out most of Frances' books/toys.  Baby Jack came over today to see Frances....he was not too thrilled with being woken up to take pictures.  We had some visits from Will's family too-  we have lots and lots and cousins, aunts, and uncles around here.

Meeting Lyndy and Kat

Hope everyone has had a great weekend- we did!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Busy Week for Frances

 Frances has been on the go since we got home on Monday.  Today we had our first visit with the pediatrician and Frances is gaining weight well.  She is up to 6lb 6oz- quite the heavyweight!  We are all doing great at home, starting to settle into a routine.  It has been so much fun to see Frances exploring her new environment, and being able to "play" instead of being contained in the hospital.

I was such a good sport at the dr office today.

She has really been enjoying laying under her activity gym.  With this nice weather, it has been so nice to get out and stroll each day. 

Playing with my toys.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Frances and Bella

Testing out the swing.

Bella is taking to the "big sister" role very easily.  She is definitely curious about Frances and it looks like they will be lifelong buddies.  We had such a wonderful day settling in and enjoying being home as a family.  Bella hung out with Frances most of the day and looked after her while she tried the swing out and got a bath.  And, we all got outside for a nice stroll in the beautiful weather!

Bath time! Bella probably thinking she's thankful it's not her turn!

All clean and ready for bed.

We had our visit with the cardiologist this morning and everything went well.  They did x-rays, EKG, and an echo-cardiogram, and Frances was a champ!  The Dr explained that what they are seeing from the test is exactly what they had seen in-utero, which is called an Atrioventricular Canal Defect. Basically this is a large hole in the center of her heart where the atria and ventricles come together.  The link below contains some information about her condition.  The great news right now is that she is getting good blood flow into and out of her heart.  He stressed the importance of adequate caloric intake and weight gain, which we are working on very hard!  So for now, we will go back every 4-6 weeks until they begin to see that its time for the repair.  The Dr seemed to be leaning more towards the 6 month mark, but really we just have to wait and see.  But for now we just keep on doing what we're doing!

The highlight of my day:)

Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

Gotta get my traveling clothes on!

How cute am I?
 We made it!  Finally being able to bring Frances home was the best feeling in the world.  She was wide awake and ready to go when we arrived at the NICU this morning.  And y'all will just have to bear with all the pictures...we took almost 200 today and it was tough choosing which ones to post.  

Getting strapped in and ready to go.

Can we please get out of here???

Ready to ride

Frances spent most of the day awake, looking around at everything, and probably wondering where all the beeping monitors and crying babies went.  I have to admit- Will and I both got slightly attached to those monitors in the NICU- showing us her heart rate/respirations constantly.  The challenge continues to be staying on top of her feedings so she will start to gain weight.  Tomorrow we will head to UAB to see the cardiologist and find out more regarding her heart condition. 

Finally at home...Bella finally sees what we have been telling her about.

Bella was very excited to meet her sister!

We are so thankful for all of the doctors and nurses in the Brookwood NICU.  They were all incredible and made a not-so-great situation more bearable.  We will miss them all- Frances was blessed to have such great care.

Wide awake and checking out her new home.

Two weeks ago tonight we were on our way to Brookwood, awaiting Frances' arrival.  Now the journey continues and we can't wait to see what God has in store for us!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Breakin' Outta This Place!

That's the plan for tomorrow, and if all goes as planned we should be home before lunchtime!  We had one little body temperature scare this afternoon (which really we think was more related to the environment), but we were able to get it back up within 2 hours so she narrowly escaped the warmer.  So Frances needs to keep her act together overnight, and she'll get her ticket out in the morning.
There's a baby under there somewhere...this was the "get warm quick" method!

The next time you check in here, we hope to be sitting at home with Frances! 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Good Night...

....From the "big girl" crib!  Frances got released from the toaster/isolette this evening, so now the body temperature/weight gain challenge begins. 
Getting all tucked in!

Please keep the prayers going that she is able to keep her body temperature up, take all her feedings, and gain weight- we don't want her to have to go back in that toaster! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Small Steps

Another day down in the NICU and Frances did great today.  I am so proud of her taking her feedings so well!  She seems to really love snoozing inside that warm isolette.  The game plan continues to get her to keep her body temperature up and now they really want to start seeing some weight gain so she got switched to the fully-leaded higher calorie formula this evening. 

I love my Daddy.

The high calorie stuff is tasty!

 Hopefully when we arrive tomorrow morning she will get to break out of the isolette and try the crib again...We are ready to be able to hold and love on her all day long!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Same Old Song

Pretty uneventful day for us- which I guess is a good thing!  I got plenty of practice changing nasty diapers through the windows of the isolette...good thing we won't be doing that much longer.  Frances is eating like a champ now, and is very alert for feedings.  She will come out of the isolette tomorrow afternoon/evening and then has to show us she can hold her body temp on her own.  Come on Frances!

The highlight of the day: A visit from Grump!

 We continue to thank God for this beautiful girl- thankful we have just had a few bumps in the road and we know going home is around the corner.  Thank you to all our friends and family for your prayers and support (and food, phone calls, cards, treats, etc, etc).  Keep those prayers coming!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Frances Just Can't Get Enough....

To my PT friends: I told Frances not to lay like that!

....Of this darn NICU.  Apparently these wonderful nurses are too sweet to Frances and she just doesn't want to leave!  We were pretty sure we would be coming home Wednesday because she has really stepped it up with feeding and her bilirubin/platelet levels were good today, then Frances decided to start dropping her temperature.  She sure is being a trouble maker and demanding attention:) It got down to where the Dr ordered her back into a warmer/isolette.  We can only get her out to feed, which is hard, but we know its for a good reason.  So we will be in the NICU for several more days- she has to stay on the warmer for a day or 2, then she has to hold her body temperature up on her own for a few days.  Slowly but surely we are going in the right direction, but we are ready to be home!

Home sweet home for a few days.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Our hearts are so full of love for this girl!

Anna Ruth, Will, & Frances
(and Bella)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mercedes Marathon 2011...and of course Frances!

The Clock Tower Gang showed up in full force this morning, blazing a trail through the streets of Birmingham to complete the race in loving memory of Sundeep.  Our "highlighter" yellow shirts could not be missed, and it was an incredible feeling to run that race knowing that Sundeep was smiling down on us the entire time.  Will pulled it together and ran the full marathon, and you can see for yourself how proud Frances is of her Daddy!

Frances has had another good day- still improving with body temperature and feeding.  Of course all the nurses in the NICU are in love with her.  How could you possibly resist this face?

We had some special visitors too- Aunt Sage and Betty!

There can be only one...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another Good Day

MeMe was finally allowed to hold Frances!

Frances continues to make progress each day-  her feedings are improving and her body temperature went up slightly throughout the day today.  They are still watching her bilirubin levels, hoping they don't go back up. We aren't setting our minds on coming home on a specific day; we know it will be soon but we are just taking one day at a time.

Check out those nails- time for a manicure.

Tomorrow is a very special day in Birmingham.  The 10th Mercedes Marathon will begin at 7:03am.  This year's run will be memorable for so many reasons.  The marathon is one of the biggest fundraisers for The Bell Center, so we will be running in honor of Bell Center children....And we will be running in honor of Frances!
All cozy and bundled up!

Also our running group, The Clocktower Gang, will be running in memory of our dear friend Sundeep Caplash, who was tragically killed while running almost two weeks ago.  Sundeep had trained so hard to run this race as his first half-marathon, and he ran the actual course 3 weeks ago when our group completed it as a training run. "Team Sundeep" will be sporting fluorescent yellow shirts with his race number and picture as we complete the full and half-marathon.  Please continue to keep the Caplash family in your prayers.

Go Team Sundeep!  We love you, Sundeep, and will cherish your friendship always.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Slow & Steady

Well, we won't be going home tomorrow like we had hoped, but we are definitely moving in the right direction.  Frances was able to come off the bili-lights this morning and we will find out tomorrow morning if her levels have stayed where they need to.  Even under those lights, she had plenty of friends keeping her company.

Helloooooo in there Frances!
So it's primarily her body temperature and feeding that is keeping her in the NICU.  Her temps were borderline low today and her feeding was very very slow and lower quantities.  It was taking us over an hour to get a minimal feed of 30cc's in for most of the day.  However, when Aunt Sage and Uncle Jack went with us for the late feeding she sucked down 40cc's in about 7 minutes!  So hopefully she will continue that trend.  When we saw the Dr this afternoon, he said he really wants to see her have 2 days of consistent 40cc feedings before we leave.  As badly as we want her home, we would so much rather stay a little longer rather than go home worrying.

Congratulations to Will....changed his first diaper tonight!!!  He waited almost 43 years to ever change a diaper and he was a pro!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

While It Was Snowing Outside....

Frances was getting quite a nice suntan.  She has spent the last 24 hours under the bilirubin lights but will hopefully get to come off in the morning.  The worst part for me was that I could only get her out to hold her for feeding.

Speaking of feedings- she ate almost 55 cc's when I first went to feed her this morning.  Boy was I proud of her!  The feedings continue to be good, great, and not so good, but she is getting the hang of it.  Thanks to my OT friends for some helpful tips!  Her heart condition definitely causes her to fatigue more easily, but she is so strong.  We will go to the cardiologist at UAB next Wednesday to find out more about what is going on and to hopefully get some sort of plan.

If things continue to progress the way they have, looks like we will get to go home on Saturday.  So keep those prayers going!

A visit from some favorite aunties!
We continue to praise God and give Him thanks for joining us together with Frances' birth mother.  She has given us the most incredible gift we could imagine.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Eating, Sleeping, and Being Beautiful

We have had an exciting day!  Frances is doing incredibly well and I was able to spend the entire day loving on her.  I got to dress her up this sure was tough deciding which cute outfit to put her in.  We have to be the fashion diva in the NICU of course (right Ashley?)! 

First Family Picture!

Frances started on her bottle feeds last night and tolerated them extremely well.  The goal is for her to take 30-40 cc's every 3-4 hours and for her to eat within about a 30 minute time period.  I finally got to feed her this after and she was exhausted and did not do so hot taking that bottle, but we got another good one in before bedtime tonight.  Being an occupational therapist, I can give tips and pointers to parents about newborn feeding in my sleep.  Well, being on this side of the feeding and feeling frustrated when I couldn't get her to eat really gave me a different perspective!  The nurses in the NICU have all been so wonderful, supportive, and helpful with everything. 

I finally let Will hold her:)
Frances has done great with her body temperature.  She came off the warmer last night and has been in a crib for over 24 hours now without dropping her temp.  This is one of the "coming home" criteria.  Her bilirubin is slightly elevated so they went ahead and put her under the lights for tonight, but hopefully she will be done with that tomorrow. 

Frances had her neurodevelopmental exam today with the occupational therapist so I had a lot of fun getting in on that action!  Frances is quite the overacheiver, and the OT was extremely pleased with her muscle tone, reflexes, responding to sound, and visual focusing. 

Good night everyone!

Tomorrow I hope to begin the day with a good feeding and start to get used to her feeding schedule.  Please continue to pray for her feedings, keeping her body temperature up, and those bilirubin levels to go down! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

There's A First Time For Everything....

And have we ever experienced some "firsts" today!  This morning at 4:11 am The McCalley Family grew as our daughter, Frances Rose McCalley, made her grand entrance.  Frances tipped the scales at 6 lbs 3 oz, measured a long and lean 19 inches, and let us know immediately that her lungs were working just fine.  After 12 hours of trying to make sure friends and family were updated on our new arrival, it became clear that it was time to enter the world of blogging.

For those of you who are new to the story, Will and I, were presented with an incredible blessing just a few short months ago.  God had been doing some amazing things in our lives leading up to November 11, 2010, but we had no idea what He ultimately had in store for us.  We found out about an opportunity to adopt a child; a baby girl who would be born with Down syndrome.  Up to this point, the word adoption had never even surfaced in conversation between Will and I, but when God placed this in our hands, there was absolutely no hesitation in our hearts or our minds.  We both knew instantaneously without saying more than a few words to each other that this was what God had been formulating in our lives over the past several years.  We formed an instant bond with the birth mother and everyone involved felt immediate peace about the journey we were preparing to travel. 

Fast forward a few months, and here we are- proud parents of the most beautiful baby girl we have ever seen.  We knew from the start that Baby Frances would have a congenital heart defect, one that is common among babies with Down syndrome.  Frances has an Atrioventricular (AV) Canal Defect, which will require surgical correction- likely between the ages of 6-12 months.  She came into the world today exceeding all expectations and is doing better than we could have hoped!

So where are we now? Frances is in the NICU and will remain there for at least 3 days (this is standard protocol) while blood cultures are run.  She also has to be able to maintain her body temperature on her own (she was in a warming bed all day) in a crib and eat well for 3 days before she can come home.  Her vital signs and O2 saturations have been great all day- never once needing supplemental oxygen!  And boy does she have a nice pink coloring!  We got word tonight after we left the hospital that they are going to give her the first bottle feeding tonight and she will be moved to a crib...which also means we get to take clothes to dress her in tomorrow.  Big steps in less than 24 hours! 

So Will and I are resting at home tonight- with Frances in the NICU there was no need for us to stay at the hospital, so we can't wait to get back there in the morning and see how she is doing.  Please pray specifically that Frances is able to keep her body temperature up and that she tolerates the bottle feedings.  We are excited to share our joy with all of you! 

Praise be to God on this day for our beautiful Baby Frances!