Thursday, June 19, 2008

Unhappy Birthday

The day Madison was born was one of the happiest in my life. Her birth was just like the movies. Well, except for the 51 hours of labor before she was actually born. Joe cut the cord and the doctors laid Madison on my chest. Immediately after she was born, right there in the delivery room, Joe and I spent time cuddling and admiring our baby girl. With a full head of hair and big blue eyes, she was the cutest baby ever.

Madison at five days old:

I cried tears of joy. Instantly Joe and I went from being a couple to a family. Life was perfect.

The day Kyle was born, on the other hand, was the worst of my life.

After my water broke at 22 weeks during our family vacation to Disney, I had been placed on bed rest in a hospital 1000 miles away from home. And I was okay with that. We were just so grateful that the doctors had been able to stop my labor.

At this point, I had been on bed rest for two weeks without any signs of labor being immanent. With people praying for us around the country, I was optimistic that I could last on bed rest for a couple months. But, the doctors had warned me that at some point labor would come, and it would come quickly. I however, was not prepared for just how quick they meant.

On February 20th, at a little after midnight, I got up to use the restroom. I did my business then laid back down in bed. It was only then that I realized something was terribly wrong. I literally could not put my legs together because the baby was falling out of me.

I frantically screamed for a nurse. She took one look at what was happening, and paged the delivery area to prep for an emergency. While this was happening, I grabbed my cell phone that was next to the bed and called Joe to alert him. The time on caller ID said 12:08am.

I was whisked down the hall and into the operating room which was full of people who were preparing for the delivery. The doctors discovered that it was actually the sac that was holding Kyle and his feet that were falling out of me. While Kyle's chances at survival were not high to begin with, with him being breech the doctors felt he certainly would not survive a vaginal delivery. So, the decision was made to try and push him back inside of me and then deliver him via c-section.

Kyle was born at 12:48 am. When he came out it was not as if you could hear a cry (the doctors later told us his lungs were the size of a lima bean) and everyone is happy and declares "it's a boy!" Instead the NICU team was there waiting and they went into overdrive trying to save this little life. Not knowing what his state was at birth, I just kept yelling "Is he alive???" until someone finally told me he was.

While I was being sewn up, a neonatoligist came to speak with me and let me know that they would do everything medically possible to give Kyle a chance at life, but there is only so much that can be done.

Until anesthesia wore off, which took a couple hours, I was not allowed to leave the recovery room to see the baby. During this time, I just laid in a bed all by myself and cried. I was so worried that Kyle would die before I ever got a chance to meet him.

In the meantime, Joe flew down to Florida. When we were finally able to go see Kyle together, we were shocked at how small he was. And it was not a tiny, cute little baby kinda small. He obviously was very sick. Despite all the problems on the inside - things like his lungs and heart not being developed - we were struck by how different he looked on the outside. One of his eyes were still fused shut. His skin was transparent and covered with hair. Even his ear lobes had not yet developed cartilage. I've never saw anything like it, but his ears just sort of hung down like Dumbo's. (Sorry Kyle, as I am sure you will read this someday!).

Kyle at five days old:

Unlike the day Madison was born, there was no cuddling and family bonding done with Kyle when he was born. In fact, it would be 69 days before I was even allowed to hold him wrapped in a blanket like a newborn.

Kyle was a fighter and after 119 days in the NICU, we were allowed to take our precious, healthy baby boy home. THAT day was one of the happiest of my life. I cried (okay I bawled) tears of joy as we made our way to the car with Kyle.

And it is THAT day that I want to celebrate.

Madison and Kyle the day he came home from the hospital:

When Kyle's birthday 1st birthday came around this past February, it just did not seem right celebrating with a big party in Ohio. So instead we headed back to Florida for a quiet reunion with our NICU family.

But, it has now been exactly one year since Kyle came home from the hospital and we are celebrating the occasion with a HUGE party for family and friends this weekend. And I couldn't be happier!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mommy and Me Trip

Well Kyle and I survived our trip to Orlando together! In fact it was FABULOUS! It was just the two of us since Joe was attending a friends bachelor party in Las Vegas, and Madison flew out with him to chaperone stay with her Grandparents and Aunt Katie who live in Vegas.

Kyle did wonderful on the plane and it ended up being a breeze getting through the airport with him by myself.

Look mom, our plane is here!

On Saturday, Rylee and her mommy came to our hotel to swim. I was a little apprehensive about how Kyle would do in the pool. Memorial Day weekend we went swimming and Kyle hated being in the water.

I think having Rylee around must have helped get him acclimated to the water because he ended up loving the pool. In fact, we were able to get some swimming in everyday of our vacation and Mr. Kyle was a little fish in the water.

After swimming, the kiddos played. It was very cool to see them interact with each other. They have come so far since this time last year when they were both still in the NICU together.

Sunday was the NICU Birthday Party sponsored by Florida Hospital. It was awesome to be reunited with the amazing staff that took such good care of Kyle during his hospital stay.

Kristin (in the middle) was one of our favorite nurses...

Kyle with his Level 3 NICU neighbor...

And his Level 2 neighbor...

During the party, Kyle played in a bounce house with Rylee...

Bowled an (almost) perfect game....

Met his first clown...

And even did a little dancing...

It was a GREAT party, well worth traveling 1,000 miles to attend!

I debated whether or not to take Kyle to Disney, but ultimately decided that I just couldn't miss not taking him when we would be so close. And I am so glad I did! Seeing Kyle smile and wave at Mickey Mouse made it all worth it.

We arrived at Magic Kingdom just as the doors opened. Although I am NOT a morning person, I love being at the park early as you can walk on just about any ride with no waiting.

I have to admit, I was a little anxious about traveling by myself with Kyle. This does not sound very nice, but sometimes you just need a little break from a baby. Kyle and I would literally not be out of the same room as each other for five days. Would I go crazy?

As it turns out, this was such a special time for Kyle and I to bond. As Madison was an only child for seven years, I had lots of "alone" time with her. After the success of this trip, I am going to try and make it a priority to spend special one on one time with both Madison and Kyle. Maybe Madison and I will take a trip to American Girl Place later in the summer...

We caught up with special friends, played in the sun, went to Disney, laughed together a ton, and came back relaxed and refreshed. All in all, our trip really could not have gone any better!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wordless Wednesday...

Dear Daddy and Madison,

Hurry home from Las Vegas. I miss you both so much!



Monday, June 9, 2008

Orlando Sentinel

Kyle and I are in Orlando, FL and having a blast! Can't wait to tell you all about our trip, but that will have to wait until we get in home.

In the meantime, thought I'd share the following article that ran in today's Orlando Sentinel:

Florida Children's Hospital reunion in Orlando celebrates preemies

When Jennifer Kupiec's water broke in a hotel room just 22 weeks into her pregnancy, her Disney vacation took a frightening turn.

"My family was a thousand miles away," the Ohio woman said.

And then after her new son was born, the doctors at Florida Children's Hospital said his chances of survival were not good.

But yesterday, Kupiec, 36, held her healthy 15-month-old son, Kyle, at a reunion for former neonatal intensive-care patients and their families. The safari-themed party at Orlando Junior Academy -- complete with a moon bounce, crafts, clowns and a disc jockey -- gave patients and their families a chance to share their stories and reunite with their former doctors and nurses.

Kupiec flew in for the event out of appreciation for the care her son received. In February, they also visited the hospital for Kyle's first birthday.

"It just didn't seem right celebrating in Ohio," she said.

The hospital hosted a similar reunion six years ago. The plan was to host one every year, but the hospital never had the money. This year, hospital officials made sure to free up $5,000 for the party, plus an additional $2,000 in donations.

"We wanted to tell the families, 'Hey, we still care about you,' " said Wanda Perara, administrative nurse manager of the neonatal intensive-care unit.

Since the unit opened in 1983, it has treated nearly 11,000 babies, most of them premature. But full-term babies born with life-threatening diseases also are taken in.

Neonatologist Jim Rawlings said he has bonded with many of his patients and their families.

Dr. Jim Rawlings visits with former patients Kyle Kupiec and Rylee Davis

during a reunion Sunday at Orlando Junior Academy.

"They're going through one of the most trying times in their lives with a recently born critically ill baby," he said. "Anyone who offers them help and care will have a special place in their hearts."

Doctors and nurses also said they often made friends with the tiny patients.

In one case, that bond has lasted two decades.
Tranica Hardy, 20, came to the reunion with her former nurse, Anna Daverman, who is now her godmother. Originally from Cocoa, Hardy lives with Daverman in west Orlando. Hardy wants to go to school in the area and eventually work in neonatal care, paying forward the help she received.
"I like it," she said. "I think it's really cool to take care of babies."

Hardy was born prematurely in Texas after 26 weeks' gestation and was transferred to Florida Children's Hospital three months later. Her heart and lungs had not fully formed and she had trouble breathing. Daverman took care of her every day that she worked for 15 months.

In addition to former patients getting reacquainted with doctors and nurses, spontaneous reunions popped up between families that had babies in the same unit. The Kupiecs joined three other families they recognized from the hospital.
Kyle and John Michael Chicarelli

In the group was Kristie Chicarelli, 36, of Eustis, who came with her 16-month-old son, John Michael."We thought it would be really rewarding just to see other babies and share stories," she said.

Her story, she said, was harrowing: she got sick with cholestasis, a liver disorder, and had to deliver John Michael by emergency Cesarean section 29 weeks into her pregnancy.

"When he was born, he wasn't breathing," she said. "They didn't say 'boy,' 'girl,' anything. They just said, 'Time 5:23,' and took him to the NICU. I didn't see him for another hour and when I saw him again he had tubes everywhere."
John Michael spent 38 days in intensive care and is now in good health, Chicarelli said.

"We call him terror on two feet," she said. "He's into everything. We just feel so blessed."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Stolion Award

Warning: Parental bragging ahead...

At the end of each school year, the Stow Lion's club sponsors an award for students that have enriched their community and school by adhering to the following ideals:

  • Respected by others, good personality, honest, fair.

  • Accepts responsibly, does work promptly and efficiently, trustworthy.

  • Respects authority, knows the rules, abides by the rules.

  • Does more than required, dependable; or

  • Has shown unusual improvement in any one or more of the above qualities.
The teachers pick one girl and boy to receive this award. The whole school gathers for the awards ceremony and it is a surprise as to who will be receiving the award.

Guess who was chosen?


This is what the teacher who nominated Madison had to say about her...

"Stolion Awards are given to those students who demonstrate excellent character and who go 'above and beyond'. I have had the unique opportunity to have Madison in my class for two years, when most teachers will only have her for one. I consider myself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to watch her grow and flourish during that time. She is an amazing kid with amazing character. She gives me her best effort with each and every task. She is respectful, fair, and responsible. She is a good citizen who cares about the classroom, her peers, and her teachers. "

When she got home from school, as a reward Daddy took her out to get an Ipod. At 1 inch by 1 inch, these things are tiny! And to imagine they hold 250 songs. Technology sure has come a a long way since my day when a Walkman was considered cool...and compact.

Madison, I could not be prouder of the special little lady you are growing up to be. I love you so much!

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if you were working for the Lord, not for men" Colossians 3:23