Saturday, November 6, 2010

Graduation Day

Isabella is now 2300 grams (5.07 lbs) and doing very well.  She passed her hearing exam, and the ROP surgery was a success.  She is eating 3/4 of her meals PO Q3 times daily, the rest will be given through an NG tube.  I have an appointment today to learn how to use the equipment that she will need at her bedside. Nate and I will "room in"/ stay the night in a special family room in the hospital. If all goes well on Sunday and Monday, we will BRING HER HOME ON TUESDAY the 9th of November!
She isn't quite out of the woods but it will be wonderful to have her home.  The chances of a Micro Preemie developing Cerebral Palsy is very high and will manifest itself within 3 years.  Her apnea spells have significantly decreased but still remain.  I'm not quite sure how we'll sleep at night, or possibly NOT stay awake for the next three months. Hmmm?

Halloween Fun


We were obviously Treckies, Alanah was a black and pink cat, Ashlynn was a "Batarina",Isabella was a pumpkin, and Jayson was NOT a terrorist...he was a Jedi.  Maybe I should have gotten him the light saber that he asked for. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


 I bathed Isabella for the first time today. A precious sight to see, my baby girl with no leeds or tubes.  It would have made too much sense to take a picture of her in the bath, so, of course I failed to capture that moment..  A fully dressed snap shot today, and sloppy seconds of what remains in my memory, will have to suffice.  I will remember to photograph her next bath.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Isabella's first attempt to bottle feed. 2 ounce bottle looks huge.
First day of Kindergarden and 2nd grade

Special visit with Christy


Oh Ashlynn is so silly

Isabella's first outfit

Friday, October 15, 2010

The light at the end of the tunnel

    To begin by saying, “It’s been so long since my last post” would be the understatement of the year.  It's been months since I've posted and I have no good excuses... I know...I am ashamed. I am willing to accept carpal tunnel as a possible consequence of my negligence, and attempt to update you with ALL of the fine details. Okay, I've wallowed in self pity for long enough, I suppose I should get to the nitty gritty. I will be as informative as possible. I wrote this post a few days ago but didn’t post it, so, the dates will seem a bit off. 



    99 days thus far, of heart wrenching anxiety, never knowing which way this roller coaster will turn and praying that it doesn’t derail.  Each day of facing the unknown has slowly and painfully crept along, but the past 3 months seem to have flown by.  38 weeks adjusted, puts Isabella two weeks shy of being a new born. I’ve been sitting in my room, counting my many blessings and reviewing all of the photos we’ve taken. I pause on a horrifying picture that takes me back to a day when I could see no end in sight.
    Bella was rushed to Primary Children’s Hospital just hours after my last post on August 15th. She had an emergency, exploratory surgery in her gut to asses the damage caused by NEC.  Within 4 hours of having the disease, her entire Colon had died and needed to be removed. Fortunately, 99 percent of her small intestine was completely free of disease. Bella was so ill at the start of surgery, that her chances of surviving through it, were less than 40 percent. She went into cardiac arrest during the surgery, giving us an intense 2 minute glimpse of the sorrow felt when a newborn passes away. We were blessed with an amazing surgical team and a feisty daughter that refused to give up. The doctors were able to bring her back and complete the surgery.  Her abdomen was left open with a portion of intestine sitting on her stomach in a small pouch that was sewn to her skin. The edema from such a traumatizing surgery was so abundant that it quadrupled her body weight. She was NPO (unable to eat) for weeks. The swelling was putting an immense amount of pressure on her internal organs, exacerbating every complication. We were told that this would be a frustrating waiting game for both her and us.  The healing process was slow but consistent.Her strength and will to live through the next few weeks gave me hope that she could survive.
     Isabella lost over half of the water weight, and was doing very well. All of the doctors were pleased with her progress and decided that she was strong enough to endure another surgery. On August 26th Isabella's abdomen was closed. She was given an ileostomy bag, which she will need to have until she is eating full, solid meals.  After this, her third surgery since birth, we'd begun the waiting game once again. We waited anxiously for her to be ready to digest and shed more water weight. 
    On September 5th, the nurses inserted a feeding tube in hopes that she would eat but her digestive system wasn’t quite ready. Another try on the 7th, failed...then the 8th...failed again. She had emesis episodes of bile and blood, so her feedings were stopped. One week had passed and she began taking tiny steps up hill.  Moving up hill, no matter how slow and rocky, is still up hill. Nate and I were so grateful for her progress.
    Finally, on september 20th, she tolerated a feed and was breathing well enough to be extubated for the first time. We were ecstatic. She was receiving 5 ml’s of breast milk fortified with calories and fat, every 3 hours.  She did great for about three days, then stopped tolerating her feeds once again. The doctors also found another heart murmur and a dome shaped pulmonary ventricular stenosis.  Days later, our spirits were lifted when we heard that she was holding her body temperature without being in an incubator.  She was able to move into a crib on September 27th AND she wore her first pair of jammies that same day.  She looked so cute and cozy.  
     After many failed attempts to feed, and a pleural effusion (excess fluid that accumulates in the pleura),the doctors put her on the Enfamil formula, Enfaport.  She did quite well on this until they mixed it with breast milk. Eureka!  She is in the 1percent of babies that cannot tolerate mom’s milk club. Once  my milk was eliminated from her diet, she was overall much healthier. It was heart breaking to know that I was making her ill but I rejoiced in the fact that we could begin moving forward. Meanwhile, the cardiologist followed up with an echocardiogram and found no sign of a murmur or a ventricular stenosis. A MIRACLE.
She was doing great, although, we did have another small setback.  The Opthamologist stopped by on October 6th for her routine eye exam and discovered ROP ( Retinopathy of prematurity).  The damage to her retina was extensive enough to require surgery within 72 hours. ROP is measured in 5 stages of damage to 3 levels of eye development.  Isabella’s eyes were in the 2nd level of development and in stage 3+ of ROP. She had laser eye surgery on October 8th.  The surgery went very well and she recovered beautifully and was taken off oxygen completely. It takes two weeks of healing before a proper prognosis can be made. 


     It is now the 15th of October and Isabella is doing very well.  She is working with a physical therapist to re-learn how to feed orally without having apnea spells. It may take 4 to 6 weeks for her to get the hang of bottle feeds. She has an eye appointment on friday the 22nd to determine if she will need an additional surgery.  Our Isabella is a fighter and we are so excited for her progress. Now that she’s almost full term, we can see an end in sight and fantasize of bringing her home.     







Sunday, August 15, 2010

Our First Moment


I was finally able to hold our tiny Isabella!  A Respiratory Therapist and Bella's Nurse Practitioner were present to assist me, and to watch her vital signs.  She tolerated her time out of the Incubator much better than we expected and I was able to hold her for 20 minutes.
   I can't come up with a word or phrase that would do justice to this experience.  I fell in love with her long before she was born. I've anticipated our "first moment" throughout my entire pregnancy. If you have kids, I'm sure you understand. For those of you who don't, let me explain.  Just after you deliver, the doctor places your baby in your arms. There is an immediate and involuntary outpouring of love, laughter and tears that spills straight from your heart. There's no stopping it, all you can do is let your emotions go, and adore your baby.
Sadly, we missed the "first moment" bus the day she was born. Isabella was taken to an incubator and put on life support before I could catch my breath or regain sanity and self control.  I waited patiently...sort of...for our bus to arrive. Nearly one month after she was born, on August 11th, I held her for the first time.
There was a beautiful rush of emotions that soared through me, I became lost in our first moments together. The first time our skin warmed one another's. The first time I kissed her head. The first time I smelled her. The first time I comforted her. The first time I held my baby.The first time our beautiful little angel was held by her mother.

PDA Ligation and NEC








  • 8/15/2010
    Isabella is struggling today.  She was just diagnosed with severe Necrotizing Enterocolitis.  She is at very high risk of her intestines perforating through the lining of her stomach. If this happens, she will be sent to Primary Children's Hospital for surgery.  She also has an infection in her blood, her kidneys have stopped working and her blood pressure is extremely low. Her oxygen levels have improved over the last 4 hours and her lungs look good.  She's mainly being treated with BP medication, antibiotics and steroids. She will receive a transfusion in hopes that it will help her BP.  We should know within the next 72 hours if she will recover on her own, or require surgery. 
      8/14/2010




Isabella had surgery today. The procedure went well and she is recovering nicely.  She was expected to sleep for two hours but she started waking up after about 6 hours.  Her co2 level is a bit high, so she is being put back on the Oscillator.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

8/12/2010 update


  • 2.4 pounds on the 13th
Isabella isn't doing as well as we had hoped for her.  Her blood gas didn't produce very good results, and her saturation levels on the ventilator had to be turned up to 43.  Her PDA is still open and is now causing the left side of her heart to swell.  She is scheduled for a PDA Ligation on the 14th at 9am.  It's a very routine surgery that they will perform here at the U.  There is a risk of damage to her vocal chords but the benefits far out weigh that risk. Hopefully as a result of this surgery, she will be able to wean off of the ventilator and be ex-tubated sooner than later. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Family walk to the waterfall!

  I instinctively want to call this a "hike", but it would be a rather pathetic one, so, lets go with "nature walk".  The kids had a great time exploring all of the what if's of  the outdoors, for example, "what if a giant bird came down and we could ride it"..." what if a bear came out of that tree?..." and so on.  Jayson confused  rock climbers with landscapers, each time he climbed a steep hill, he'd say "look mom, its just like landscaping!", I let him say it a good 5 times before I corrected him because it was really cute.  Alanah and Ashlynn would go to a look out or climb a post and exclaim to the world that they are the princesses.  Nate and I walked hand in hand and optimistically explored our ideal if / then scenarios.  It was a perfect time to de-stress and have some much needed QT with the family.






Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chicken Soup for my Soul

There aren't a whole lot of things better than seeing my kids play together.  They get lost in their games and totally consumed by whatever creative character they are for the day.  I love the confidence that radiates from their contagious smiles as they dance and sing to the music.  It's difficult to learn each one's individual love language, but the times that I get it right, their gratitude illuminates my soul.
The result of a boy giving a girl, in Jayson's words,"the ultimate makeover".   Alanah loved it, just because Jayson did it.


Green Tea (water with green food coloring) and marshmallows. We do love a good tea party.

Playing "Dress up" never gets old.  

The funniest water fight between Jayson and Alanah! 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

They looked so cute having a drink after our Sunday visit with Bella

8/05/2010 Update

  • 1 pound 14 Ounces by August 11th.
  • Saturation down to 20-24 but she's not tolerating it well. they will go up a little on the 7th
  • She still isn't tolerating weaning the vent levels by the 10th and has to go back up to 30-34
  • Isabella had a rough night and is now up to 38 on the ventilator. I previously mentioned that 15 is ideal.
This was a really good week for Isabella, busy...but good. She's grown quite a bit and was given a bigger intubation tube.  She's breathing well on her own and her murmur doesn't seem to be slowing her down thus far.  She is slowly weaning off the ventilator and taking small steps toward ex-tubation.  She is awake and playful for a good portion of the day and loves putting her hands in her mouth. She started smiling this week...sure it's gas, but hey...it's a smile. 

Isabella is doing so well!  Nate and I have been doing her cares and it's amazing.  It's only taking her temp and changing diapers, but, it really aids in eliminating some of the helplessness that we feel. Her heart murmur sounds a bit louder but this could be a good thing. It may be because it's closing. She's beginning to look a little bigger, on the 6th.  Isabella is gaining about .5 to 1 ounce per day.  
  • 1 pound 12 ounces on the 7th.

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Isabella Bunnell



    As you all know, I delivered our new baby girl 15 weeks early.  It was spontaneous but thought to be due to an infection in the placenta. Isabella's doctor explained to us that she has a better chance of survival outside of the womb because of the infection.  Three days after her birth, we named her Isabella Victoria Bunnell. Our hearts broke as we left our tiny 1 pound 7 ounce baby in the NICU and headed home.We expect her to be hospitalized until late October.  Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers, they mean so much to us. She is doing very well so far and we have faith in the power of prayer. no matter the outcome, your support greatly blesses our lives in our time of need.

    Labor and Delivery

    On July 15th at 6:32 PM We hopped onto an unstable roller coaster ride with prayer and optimism on one end and fear of the unknown on the other.

    Three days after my prenatal check up, which went so well that my doctor was certain I'd carry to term, I started labor.  I had a fever, which is never good when your pregnant, then, the contractions began! Typically, when you complain of back aches and contractions at 25 weeks gestation, you're called a wimp, if the pain stays, you lie down on your left side for one hour, if that fails...you pop Terbutaline tablets like they're orange Tic Tacs.  
    No amount of medication or lying down availed my attempts to stop the labor.  3 hours later, we went to the South Valley Hospital's Labor and Delivery Unit. I was contracting every three minutes, hemorrhaging and dilated to 5 centimeters. They started steroid injections to help the babies lungs develop, antibiotics to fight any possible infections and Terbutaline to stop the labor.
    Within the hour, I was at 8 centimeters dilated and being Life Flighted to The University of Utah Hospital. Ten minutes after arrival, I was fully dilated and began to push. Did you notice my LACK of mentioning pain meds? OUCH!!! I will spare you the details but I did scream into Nate's shoulder, and I may have hit the doctor, with a malicious intent to injure her, but one couldn't be certain.
     After spending an eternity in agonizing pain, which manifests its self as a measly 30 minutes on the clock, our nameless baby girl was born. She had a strong heartbeat but her blue and limp appearance frightened us.  The doctors explained to us that she was stable, "for now", but this would be a very difficult "roller coaster" ride for her and us.  I thought to myself, "So hold onto your hats and glasses folks,'cause this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness". Great timing huh?


    We'd love to continue to share this roller coaster of a journey with you.  Isabella's  health changes daily so we've decided to track her progress  through an additional page on our blog.  Click on the tab titled Isabella's Page for updates.

    My wonderful kids came to visit me after I delivered.  We had so much fun playing with the controls on the bed.

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Do you hear that?...the lonesome cry of crickets on my page? It's Pathetic, really. I have been totally MIA for some time now, well, to blogging at least. I spent a few months on bed rest, where I could have blogged, but I would rather watch children's movies, read books and play games with my kids. I can admit that blogging was heavy on my mind for some time. I felt rather pathetic for the relentless lethargy that befell me at 8pm...but I'm not sorry. I saved the small amount of energy that I had, for my husband and kids. I'm not super woman and that's ok, When I have to choose, my family will always come first.

    I'm trying to make somewhat of a comeback but it wont be pretty. My posts will most likely be sporadic...but that's no surprise, and My pictures may or may not have captions. Forgive me for my sloppy posts and I will forgive you for not commenting on my cute pictures...deal?

    Thursday, July 29, 2010

    Fantastic week

    7/29/2010                                                                                                    
    Isabella is very alert this week and doing so great! We were given the "OK" to hold her!  We would need to have several specialists on site, and we'd would only be able to hold her for a couple of minutes.  
    • Measured 13 1/2 Inches long  
    • Weighed 1 pound 9 ounces on August 4th
    •  Saturation 24-26


    Sunday, July 25, 2010

    Going back to Cali...


    This beauty was for the 4th of July. Seriously just as beautiful as it was delicious. Amy Catale is basically a genius...I'm sure she'd agree.


    Izzy and baby Eva Fa'asamala 

    ... to Cali

    I asked Jayson if he was ok because as you can see, he doesn't look ok.
    He said "Yes mom, I'm getting eaten by a shark, I'm not gonna smile about that."

    Alanah is just showing off her new dolphin bling...no big deal.

    Jayson's reaction to touching a sea slug! totally freaked out.

    All three kids had a fantastic time blowing bubbles with Grandma Bunnell. 3 kids and lots of soapy solution, my mother in law is so brave!

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    7/22/2010 Update


    Her weight is down to 1 pound 3.4 ounces at the beginning of the week.  All of her edema has gone away, she looks much thinner and sicker. It broke our hearts to see her frail body with all the tubes in her mouth.  By the 25th, she is on full feedings and  gaining about 1/2 ounce daily. by the end of the week, Isabella's on a new ventilator and taking some breaths on her own.*
    • ductus arteriosus is still open. Small heart murmur found but expected to close on its own.
    • up to 1 pound 6.2 ounces by the end of the week! Way to go baby girl! :) 
    • Blood Oxygen saturation- 36-38 (ideal is 15)



    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    7/15/2010 Isabella's Birth

    Our unnamed baby was born today at 6:32pm.  1 pound 7 ounces (650 kg) 12 3/4 inches long.  She was immediately taken to the NICU and put in an Isolette on full life support.  She has an Endotracheal Tube (ETT tube) to an oscillator.  On the 16th, Phototherapy lights were started to decrease jaundice.  On the 17th, we named her Isabella Victoria Bunnell.  Nate came up with the name and I just loved it.


    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    Happy Birthday Jayson

    I can't believe this kid is 7!...SEVEN! He's an amazing boy and we feel so blessed to have him as our son.  We played with our friends at the Cowabunga Bay water park for most of the day, then headed down to Provo to spend time with family.