Friday, December 30, 2005
We started taking her off of the ventilator for 30 minute spurts a few times a day. Today we took her off 3 times. If she handles her trials well, then we can increase the time by 15 minutes every 3 days. So far Kayla has handled her first few trials well so we are hopeful that her progress will continue. The only changes that we see are in the amount that she needs to be suctioned when she is off of the ventilator. We are so ecstatic to have a chance to take her out of her room for these trials that we usually spend the time walking her around the house and showing her different parts of the house. It has been fun introducing her to the dogs who stay downstairs most of the time. When she sees them her eyes get so wide with curiosity. The dogs seem to understand what is going on and are very calm and sweet when she’s around them too.
Kayla has been moving more everyday and has really started to make meaningful movements with her hands. We bought her some ‘Brainy Baby’ toys for Christmas that light up and play music and she has learned how to hit the keys to make them play. It’s so amazing watching her learn and grow. What a little miracle baby!
We need to run but will write more later.
Have a Wonderful New Year,
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Kayla arrived home on Tuesday, November 8, 2005 at 10:30 a.m. by ambulance. It was so incredible to finally see Kayla outside of the hospital. She looked so beautiful the first time the sun hit her sweet face. I rode in the ambulance with her while Grandma Jane and Jeff followed us in the car. I was overcome with emotion on the ride home and cried most of the way there. Coming home by ambulance wasn’t quite what we had imagined for her homecoming but it didn’t really matter at that moment, she was finally coming home.
Kayla began to show immediate changes the first day she was home. She was awake all day and was checking out her new environment with total amazement. Jeff’s brother Mitch and our nieces, Shelby and Lindsay, arrived that day for a visit from the East coast. They spent several days helping us out and loving Kayla up. It was so great to have them here with us to help us get settled in. Both the girls fell madly in love with Kayla, it was so sweet. Jeff and I really miss having them here with us but Kayla especially misses them!
Since Kayla has been home, she has been growing like a little weed. She has surpassed the doctor’s expectations in so many areas already. What an amazing little girl. Kayla was 10 lbs the day she left the hospital and today (12/20) she weighed in at a whopping 14 lbs, almost 10 lbs more than her birth weight. She is finally starting to put on a little baby fat and is filling in her long tall frame. Kayla is nursing like a champ. Her suck has gotten stronger every day and the doctors have begun to reduce her tube feedings slightly to keep her at the proper weight. We are hopeful that she will eventually feed solely by breast during the day although she will continue to be tube fed throughout the night for the time being. It is so amazing that she is able to eat by mouth while on a ventilator. What a little fighter she is! Kayla is now over 2 feet tall (25 inches to be exact) and is in the 97th percentile for height. It looks like she definitely got the tall genes from Jeff and me.
Kayla’s ventilator settings have not been changed since we have been home and her pulmonologist does not want to make any changes until the Spring. We are hoping that she will eventually get off of the ventilator but for now we are just focusing on getting through each day. The doctor isn’t sure yet when she will have her trach removed but it could be years so we are trying not to think about it too much.
So many of you have asked what life is like for us now that we are home. It is so wonderful but is still not completely “normal”. Kayla spends most of the time in her room and only is able to leave when several of us are available to relocate her equipment to another room. We sometimes move her to the TV room especially when we have to watch her overnight. We have been able to take Kayla out of the house 5 times now for doctor’s visits. It is quite a task to get her out of the house but it is so great to be mobile. In order to leave the house we have to take 5 different machines with us and an emergency kit so we have to be incredibly organized to successfully get out and be on time to the doctor. We have to take her ventilator and tubing, a backup battery (37 lbs), a suction machine to keep her lungs clear, a pulse oxymeter to measure her oxygen saturation and heart rate and a feeding pump to feed her. We purchased a special stroller to hold everything but didn’t realize just how heavy it would all be so we are looking into some other options to make traveling a bit easier. Kayla has 9 different doctors at the moment and then also has several other services such as speech therapy and physical therapy. One of Kayla’s doctors generously makes house calls and both her speech and physical therapy will be coming to our home for visits as well. We are trying to limit her exposure to sick kids so we are grateful to the doctors who make house calls or follow her by phone. The doctors have warned us to keep her healthy during the winter months so that we don’t land back up in the hospital again. They have also cautioned us that if she gets sick, she may not have the ability or strength to fight it off so we are being very careful with her.
Kayla made her first real baby sounds on 12/2. One of the hardest parts of having a baby that is intubated or that has a trach is that they can’t cry or make baby sounds. Kayla’s trach tube is placed below her vocal cords so no air passes by the cords to allow her to make sounds. We have never heard Kayla cry up until now. Kayla has somehow figured out how to get air around her trach and is starting to make small sounds. The first time Jeff and I heard her voice we both cried. It was the sweetest sound we had ever heard. We posted up a video so you can hear her. Kayla also began moving her head and neck on her own a few weeks ago. She is able to lift her head off of you if you are holding her against your chest. She is also able to turn her head from side to side now. This is a huge accomplishment since we have had to turn her head every 1-2 hours since her birth so that she doesn't get too stiff from sleeping on one side too long.
Jeff and I have begun to live our lives in 8 hour shifts since we have been home. The nursing shifts are from 7 am to 3 pm, 3 pm to 11 pm and 11 pm to 7 am. It feels like our doorbell is constantly ringing these days. We currently have about 16 hours of nursing care each day which leaves 8 hours a day where Jeff and I care for Kayla by ourselves. Sometimes we have only 8 hours a day of coverage and sometimes we have 24 hours a day so it really varies depending on the nursing availability. So far we have had to cover a couple of night shifts (11 pm to 7 a.m.) each week which is really draining. It is impossible to sleep for more than half an hour at a time on night shifts since the equipment needs to be maintained constantly. She has a humidifier on her ventilator that needs to be filled with water and suctioned out every 45 minutes to an hour. About once an hour, Kayla’s trach needs to be suctioned to keep her lungs clear. Every three hours we need to feed her with a feeding pump unless she is breastfeeding. And of course a fresh diaper every 1-2 hours. We also have to care for her trach site (or stoma) and her feeding tube (Mic-key button) a few times a day. On top of all of that, I am still pumping breast milk when I’m not feeding Kayla so as you can see our days are pretty full. With Kayla’s busy schedule we don’t have much free time to take care of ourselves but we are trying to make an effort to get out of the house every once in a while when we have nursing coverage. We have been very happy with the nurses that have been assigned to Kayla’s case. We were not quite sure what to expect when we left the hospital so we have been pleasantly surprised. Considering how much time we all spend together, it’s a good thing that we get along so well.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my brother Chris and my sister-in-law Dawn came to visit us from Maryland. They brought their 5 kids out as well but we couldn’t risk Kayla’s health so the kids all stayed in Santa Cruz with my parents and sister, Kathy. It was very sad to have the kids so close but not be able to see them. It really made Jeff and I realize what life will be like for the next few years. We had a great time with Chris and Dawn but ate way too much. Kayla joined us at the table but slept through the entire meal. This was Kayla’s first trip to the first floor of our house since we had her home.
Jeff and I have been working hard to prepare the house for Christmas since we will be spending the holidays at home with Kayla. We are looking forward to spending our first Christmas together as a family. So many of you have asked us what you can do for us. Jeff and I discussed it and feel that the best thing that anyone can do for us right now is to help fund research for Myotonic Dystrophy. Although Kayla may have a shortened lifespan due to her disease, we are hopeful that the recent research developments will prove to be successful in finding a cure in her lifetime. We are working on a plan right now to get more involved with the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association). If you would like to help, please donate to the MDA, specifically for Myotonic Dystrophy research, I have posted a link on our registry page. You can donate to the MDA, specifically for Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy (MMD, Steinert’s Disease), and make the gift in honor of Kayla. For those of you who are interested, her full name is Kayla Michele Vittek. Kayla is such an amazing little girl with such a beautiful spirit and has touched the lives of everyone who has crossed her path. Please help us help her by making a donation.
Well, that’s all for now. I promise to update the site more regularly now that we are getting settled in. We will be adding photos regularly so keep checking back.
We wish you all a healthy, happy holiday season. Thank you again for all of your continued prayers, love and support.
Tuesday, November 8, 2005
Kayla will be transported from the hospital by ambulance and will be accompanied by a Respiratory Therapist and a Registered Nurse who will transfer her care to the in-home nursing staff who will be with Kayla at home for 16 hours a day.
Jeff and I are so ecstatic to think about what life will be like with Kayla in our home. We will finally be united as a family and all be able to sleep under the same roof! I will be especially happy to finally sleep in a real bed again and start eating something besides hospital food. I have had enough turkey and gravy to last me a lifetime. Hopefully our 2 dogs (Chessy & Chai) and 2 cats (Kikko & Joey) will accept Kayla into our home without being too jealous. Our animals have been so love starved over the last few months so hopefully that they won’t care about having a new member of the family as long as they start getting some attention.
We have been so busy over the last few weeks preparing our home and Kayla's room for the nursing staff and equipment that will support her. We have also been learning about all of the support services that are available for special needs children and getting her signed up for all of the programs for which she is eligible.
The last few weeks have been full of some amazing milestones for little Kayla. On October 20th, Kayla had an oral feeding test called a Modified Barium Swallow. The speech therapist mixed my breast milk with liquid barium and then watched Kayla swallow it with an x-ray guided procedure to monitor her swallowing patterns. Thankfully Kayla did not aspirate or ingest any milk into her lungs and was fairly effective in swallowing. Before this, we had no idea how difficult a process swallowing really is. The speech pathologist says it is one of the most complex processes in the human body. Who would have known! We were able to begin feeding Kayla small amounts of milk by mouth a few days after her test. She had her first try with a bottle on October 24th. After 93 exhausting days of pumping my breast milk night and day, Kayla was able to successfully begin breastfeeding on October 28th. Way to go Kayla! Although she has a very week suck still and only takes in small amounts of milk, she is getting stronger every day.
Kayla celebrated her first Halloween and was so cute in her red and black ladybug outfit. We added some new pictures to the photo gallery. For those of you who have been asking to see more pictures, we are in the middle of completing a more permanent website for Kayla where we can post videos and as many pictures as we want. We will post a link to the site once we have time to finish it.
On November 1st, Kayla had a hearing test and passed with flying colors. She also had a follow-up eye exam which showed that the corneal clouding, which was seen in her previous exam, had cleared up. The doctor did not see any issues with her eyes this time but we will be following up with her doctor over the next year to make sure that no more issues arise.
Kayla’s breathing has continued to improve and she is now up to 12 hours a day on CPAP (pressured support only). During these CPAP trials, Kayla has to initiate all of her own breaths but is given just a little pressure support with each breath she takes to help keep her lungs fully inflated. For those of you who know anyone with sleep apnea, CPAP masks are what are used to make sure that you don’t stop breathing in the middle of the night. Kayla is usually on CPAP during the day and then a rate of 5 machine breaths per minute at night so basically she is doing most of the work now. We are hoping that someday soon we can start testing her off of the ventilator during the day. It would be so amazing to hold her without having to drag along all of her tubing. So far we have only been able to move her about 5 feet away from her bed since she was born. It will be so incredible just to be able to pick her up and carry her around the house. This is something that we would have taken for granted before this experience but now things like that seem so amazing. It’s interesting how this experience has changed our perspective on life. We really don’t take anything for granted anymore.
Over the weekend, Kayla weighed in at a whopping 10 lbs, more than double her birth weight. It is so great to see her put on weight and continue to get stronger every day.
Well, we need to get some sleep before we head out to the hospital in a few hours. Thanks for keeping up with everything and for your patience through this experience. Also, thanks again for posting so many wonderful messages on the message boards. We are looking forward to the day that we can share all of your messages with Kayla so she knows how much love and support she had during this difficult time but for now we are taking one day (or moment) at a time.
Hopefully, after we get settled in at home over the next few weeks, we can get back in touch with you all again and can finally get back to a more normal routine of life.
All of our love,
Monday, October 31, 2005
We've also been very busy making arrangements with in-home nursing providers so that we can finally bring our baby Kayla home (on a ventilator)...maybe in November :)
Stay tuned for further updates and keep up the prayers !!
Thanks again for everyone's support...
Jeff, Lisa, & Kayla
P.S. I have added a new photo from Halloween!
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Jeff and I are currently training with the nurses so that we can care for Kayla when we go home. Some things have been pretty scary to learn; however, with practice, we have become comfortable with her care. Caring for a trach is very involved but we seem to be getting the hang of it finally.
Over the last few weeks the doctors have been working on trying to wean Kayla’s ventilator settings. The doctors in the PICU have a different approach to weaning than the doctors in the NICU had. According to Kayla’s doctor “I wouldn’t go run a marathon without exercising first so that is what we are going to do with Kayla”. They are slowly working now on exercising Kayla’s lung muscles. They have taken her from 30 minutes a shift on just pressured support to 2 hours now. She is basically breathing on her own for almost 6 hours a day now. The doctors will keep increasing the time on pressured support until they feel they can completely take her off of the ventilator for short spurts. They will eventually try and get her completely off during the day for several hours but we are taking one day at a time.
Kayla had a follow up MRI on Friday (10/7) and was able to make it through the entire procedure off of the machine ventilator with just oxygen. It was really exciting to see her breathing on her own although it was a bit scary as well. We are hoping with time that she may be able to spend parts of the day completely off of the ventilator. She will definitely have to use the ventilator at night for a few years but if we could at least have some time during the day where she could be off, we would be so happy.
On Saturday (10/8), Jeff and I went to an annual reunion of babies who have made it out of the special care nursery over the years. We had a good time talking with other parents and seeing their kids. I don’t think there have ever been so many triplets in one place before. It was really great seeing how many kids were thriving now. I have to say it was a little weird only coming with a picture of Kayla. Hopefully someday we will be able to bring her to the reunion.
A friend of mine who has a baby with Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy, shared this with me and I wanted to share it with you. It really sums up what we are going through right now.
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability -- to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...
"Welcome to Holland”
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans... the Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel, Gondolas. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After several months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go.
Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland!" "Holland?" you say. "What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy. I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It's just a different place. So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around. You begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. And Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, " Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that experience will never, ever, ever, go away. The loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Jeff and I enjoyed meeting all of the families at the fundraiser in LA. We got to meet several families who had babies born with Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy so it was really great to share stories and learn from their experiences. We also met many people who have the juvenile and adult forms of Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy (MMD). What a great group of people! The most interesting thing that we learned was how varied the symptoms can be even with siblings and members of the same family. This gave us hope for Kayla’s long term prognosis although she has the most severe form of this dystrophy.
Kayla was scheduled for surgery Wednesday (9/21/05) afternoon for both a trach and a gastrointestinal (GI) feeding tube. The feeding tube is placed directly into her stomach through her stomach wall. Babies with Myotonic Dystrophy usually have problems sucking and swallowing properly and there is always a fear of aspiration where food can enter the lungs and cause pneumonia and possible death. They have to be sure that Kayla has an alternate way to eat until further testing can be run on her to ensure safe oral feeding.
Both of Kayla’s surgeries went well and she is now in her own room recovering. She was moved from the Neonatal ICU to the Pediatric ICU where one parent is able to stay with her 24/7 so life is starting to get just a little bit easier. Each room has a phone, TV & VCR so we can keep up with what’s going on outside of our little world here. They also feed breastfeeding mothers so I don’t have to leave the room to find food everyday. They also have room where they can put a cot for another parent to sleep so it’s nice to both be able to stay at the hospital all night if we want to. It has been so nice being able to wake up next to Kayla and capture the moments that we have been missing over the last two months of her life. Life is feeling just a little more normal now. As Jeff and I like to say, this is our ‘NEW normal’.
Yesterday morning the doctors began feeding Kayla again and she is tolerating her food well. They have increased her milk from 3 ml/hour yesterday to 8 ml/hour this morning and 13 ml/hour this afternoon. They are working towards 20 ml/hour by the end of the day today if all goes well. Kayla has been breathing really effectively since she had her trach put in. They have moved her to the lowest possible ventilator settings and she is tolerating it well. Yesterday they tried her off of the ventilator for an hour and she did very well. They will begin weaning her for a couple hours per day and will continue to monitor her progress. The nice thing about having a trach is that they can easily take her on and off of the ventilator without any damage to her trachea or throat. It took us a little while to get used to the idea of the trach but now we are seeing the benefits of it.
Grandma Jane left yesterday (9/23) to return back to Santa Cruz after almost 3 months with us. She has been an unbelievable blessing for the three of us. Besides keeping us fed and organized, she also provided so much love, friendship and support during these difficult months and we will miss having her around. If I can be as great a mom to Kayla as my mom is to me, Kayla will be one lucky girl. We love you MOM!
Today is Kayla’s original due date (Day 59 in the hospital) so Jeff and I are going to celebrate in her room tonight. She is officially 40 weeks old today and weighs a whopping 8 lbs. 1.6 oz. She is getting cuter by the minute, especially now that we are able to finally see her face without tubes sticking out and tape all over it.
We will keep you updated on her progress.
All of our love,
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Kayla has made some progress over the last few days. Her feeding tube was moved from her lower bowel to her stomach two days ago and she is handling the food well. Yesterday (9/16/05), Kayla's breathing tube was removed and she is only being supported by a nasal canula with pressured oxygen. So far she is hanging in there although she has had a handful of times when her vital signs have gone a little off the charts. She has recovered from the heart drops and C02 increases well and we are hoping that she continues this progress and can stay off of the ventilator. Unfortunately, if she fails this time, she will need to have a trach put in but we are feeling like she will make it so we aren't going to worry about that for now.
Kayla weighed in yesterday at 7 lbs. 11 oz. and is is getting bigger by the day! Go Kayla!
We are rushing out the door but will write more when we return home tomorrow.
Monday, September 12, 2005
We feel that Kayla has been put on this earth for a reason and we are not willing to think about life without her right now. So far she has proven to be such a strong fighter that we have no reason to believe that she won’t continue to keep improving and teach us all about the fragility of life and its possibilities.
In the next few weeks we will be faced with making decisions regarding her long term breathing and feeding support including a possible tracheostomy and insertion of a gastrointestinal feeding tube into her stomach.
We will be meeting with the doctors this week to discuss these issues and what the future may hold for Kayla. If you would like more information about Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy, here are a few web links. http://www.mdausa.org/publications/fa-mmd-qa.html#whatis and http://www.myotonicdystrophy.org/General%20Information.htm
We are hanging in, thanks to everyone’s love and support. Please continue to keep Kayla in your prayers
Sunday, September 4, 2005
As far as Kayla’s progress….the doctors suggested we attempt to test Kayla off of her ventilator last week. We were warned to keep our expectations low as it usually takes several attempts for babies to come off of their ventilators before they can successfully breathe on their own.
On Tuesday (8/30/05) at 11:30 a.m. Kayla’s tube was removed and she began breathing on her own for the first time with the assistance of an oxygen nasal tube. She was able to breathe on her own until Thursday (9/1/05) at 3:30 a.m., almost 41 hours! (We have added a new picture in the Photo Gallery) Unfortunately, the last nurse who had Kayla while she was off of the ventilator had her on her back which is most likely why she failed. It is the most difficult position for babies coming off of their ventilators. Kayla’s lungs collapsed during this attempt so we will have to wait until her lungs re-inflate before they attempt to remove her vent again. The doctor will write orders next time to make sure that she is kept on her stomach until she seems strong enough to handle being on her back.
On Tuesday (8/30/05), Kayla was fitted with two foot braces. These will help keep her feet from having ‘foot drop’ related to her muscle weakness. She will be wearing them two hours on and two hours off for the time being.
On Thursday evening, (9/1/05), Kayla set a new record by holding both eyes open for over two hours. To us, this was significant as she has only opened her eyes for several seconds once or twice a day in the past.
On Saturday, (9/3/05). Kayla weighed in at 6 lbs, 6 oz, a gain of 1 lb, 7 oz since her birth. She is now 19 ½ inches long, a gain of 1 ½ inches. GO KAYLA! Jeff and I were able to give Kayla her first real bath which was so fun for the two of us. Kayla was also moved into a new covered crib that will allow us to protect her from the harsh lights in the NICU. We were so relieved that she will finally be able to get some rest.
We are still waiting on her genetic test results to rule out Congenital Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy and expect to get them back this next week. Kayla is only two weeks away from her original due date of 9/24/05 so we are getting closer to her next schedule brain MRI. Waiting has been the hardest part of this whole experience for the two of us but we are finally getting close to possibly getting some answers.
Thanks for hanging in there with us.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
I will be taking a cake down to the hospital today so we all can try and celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary today, 8/31.
That's all for now...keep up the prayers !
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Lisa went into surgery Monday afternoon, 8/29 @3:00 pm, for what was to be a quick 15 minute procedure to remove another remaining portion of placenta that was left behind from her C section. Lisa’s Mom and I sat together in the ER waiting room. At 4:30pm, with no word, we became concerned. I checked with the nurse assistant who indicated that they were only halfway finished and the surgery was taking much longer than anticipated. We were told they would call us as soon as surgery was completed.
Finally, at 6:05 pm, nearly 3 hours later, the Dr. entered the waiting area and called us into conference with the updates. The Dr. informed us that Lisa was OK, was in the recovery room, and would remain there for another hour or two before returning back up to her room. Lisa was not coming out of the anesthesia as quickly as anticipated so they were being extra cautious. They also indicated that Lisa had lost more blood in this surgery than during her C section at Kayla’s birth. Lisa lost over half of her blood volume. The doctors were very overwhelmed and amazed at both the size and degree of difficulty in removing the remaining section of placenta. They said that Lisa had something called 'Placenta Accreta' which usually requires a hysterectomy but Lisa spoke with them before she went under and begged that they save her uterus at all costs. They chose to remove Lisa's placenta by hand and that is what ended up taking so long.
As of today, Lisa is now back in her room, very tired, still medicated, but recovering with the help of many pain medications.
As for Kayla … She is now up to 19 ml per hour of Mom’s milk. She is gaining weight and now at 6 lbs. 1oz, up from her original birth weight of 4 lbs. 15 oz. However, Kayla still has yet to make sounds due to the ventilator tube and her eyes have remained closed most of the time, only opening them a few times a day for several seconds.
Please keep up the prayers and messages....thanks,
Monday, August 29, 2005
The past few days have been very challenging and tiresome.
On Saturday 8/27 @ at 2pm, Lisa began complaining of sever stomach pains. I took her to the Urgent Care at Sutter Hospital here in Roseville by our house. At 4pm, they informed Lisa that she was 5 cm dilated as her body was attempting to expel some remaining matter from her C section of 4 weeks ago. She was immediately sent to the Emergency Room where they performed a general procedure to help remove some placental matter.
After several hours in ER at Roseville, @11:00pm Sat. 8/27 night, they informed us Lisa needed to be admitted. We then requested a transfer by ambulance from Sutter Roseville to Sutter Memorial downtown so Lisa could be in the same hospital as Kayla so that she could still feed her. She spent the next 3 hours in that ER Room from 12 am-3am, and then finally to a room at 3:30am Sunday, 8/28 morning. Her Mom & I spent a night with Lisa her in her room. They placed Lisa on IV’s to help the matter removed itself and some antibiotics to fight off if there should be any infection. We were told she would probably be released on Mon. 8/29 afternoon.
Unfortunately, it’s now 2:00 pm Monday 8/29, and Lisa’s ultrasound this morning has revealed a large portion of placenta is still inside and needs to be surgically removed. They will be performing an immediate surgery on Lisa at 3:00pm today.
Please pray for Lisa's well being through this surgery as well as continued prayers to our little Kayla.
Thanks for everyone's continued prayers, messages, love, and offers for support. It means the world to us right now!
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Kayla’s vital signs have been stable for the past few days. She has increased her milk intake and is successfully processing it. However, the doctors are still very concerned with a number of issues including her inability to be weaned off the ventilator. They have let us know that her breathing tube can only last so long and if she is still on the vent by the time she reaches her original due date of 9/18 then they will have to consider putting a tracheotomy tube in her throat to connect the ventilator. We are hoping and praying that she can successfully get herself off of the vent before that time.
The doctors are also concerned that Kayla does not keep her eyes open for more than a few minutes a day. Their biggest concern is still regarding her muscle tone. What we have felt as an improvement in her tone over the last few weeks is now being defined by the physical therapist as muscle rigidity and stiffness. She is unable at times to fully extend her arms and has recently started having muscle twitches. These changes in her muscle tone are very concerning since they may point to a more serious problem, a brain injury. The doctor’s all feel that the genetic tests being done to rule out muscular dystrophy and other muscle disorders will likely come back negative at this point. The doctor’s plan for the next few weeks is to 1) allow Kayla to rest and grow, 2) perform a muscle biopsy of her thigh muscle tissue and 3) do a second brain MRI to compare her brain changes to the first MRI. We are hopeful that we will finally get some answers back in the next few weeks about the source of Kayla’s health issues.
My mom, “Grandma Jane”, gave Jeff and me a beautiful poem the other day that has really touched us deeply and we wanted to share it with you. It was written by Ann Weems in 1980.
For our sweet baby Kayla
If I could, I’d write for you a rainbow
And splash it with all the colors of God
And hang it in the window of your soul
So that each new God’s morning
Your eyes would open first
To Hope and Promise.
If I could, I’d wipe away your tears
And hold you close forever in shalom
But God never promised
I could write a rainbow,
Never promised I could suffer for you,
Only promised I could love you.
That I do.
We love you with all of our hearts,
Mom & Dad
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
On Saturday (8/20) Kayla opened both of her eyes for the first time (we added a new photo). Her eyes are a beautiful hazel blue although who knows what color they will end up being. It was such a sweet moment to talk to her and have her look back at you like she understood what you were saying. Both my dad and sister were able to hold Kayla for the first time on Saturday.
On Sunday (8/21) Kayla slept for most of the day. My nieces Maya & Noelle were able to look at Kayla for the first time but only through a window. Visitors under the age of 12 have to be a sibling of Kayla. Even though it was hard for them to see her very well, they were still excited about seeing their new cousin for the first time.
Yesterday (8/22) Kayla slept most of the day while my mom and I were visiting. Just before we arrived she had finished physical therapy and seemed pretty worn out afterwards. She finally woke up in the evening when Jeff was visiting with her. Jeff said it looked like Kayla was trying to talk to him. She kept opening her mouth and sticking her tongue out. Too bad Jeff didn’t have the camera with him! Last night Kayla weighed in at 5 lbs. 15.5 oz. She has gained a full pound since she was born! Hopefully her weight will begin increasing faster now that she is finally getting milk. She also gained 1 ¼ inches in height and is now 19 ¼ inches tall. Kayla’s feedings were increased to 18 ml/hr and she seems to be tolerating the feedings well. The doctors have said that they want to keep feeding her through the tube until she gains some more weight but will hopefully try and test her stomach again when she is closer to full term in 4 weeks.
We are still waiting to hear back on her genetic testing but are hoping the results will be in this week. Please send some prayers for little Kayla that the tests come back negative.
All of our love,
Friday, August 19, 2005
Thursday (8/18) was a turning point for Kayla. Her food was increased to 4 ml/hr and they began turning down the supplemental nutrition that she has been fed through her IV’s for the last 3 weeks. She had an x-ray of her stomach which showed no abnormalities and an x-ray of her lungs which were clear and still fully inflated. Both my mom and I were able to hold Kayla for extended periods during the day. Kayla was tested off of her bed warmer several times and was able to hold her own temperature so they turned the heater off permanently. They will hopefully be moving Kayla to a crib in the next few days which will be great since we can cover it and protect her from the harsh lights that she has been exposed to 24/7 since she was born. Kayla also had her first sponge bath and looked so cute and clean! Her facial swelling seemed to finally be going down. I added a new picture to the photo gallery (the last picture) that really shows a big difference in her swelling.
Today (8/19) Kayla had her best day ever and we are hopeful that this means the beginning of real progress. One of Kayla’s IV’s was able to be removed and they are hoping to remove her last IV in the next few days after she has finished her final dose of antibiotics. The doctors decided that they did NOT need to put another Broviac catheter in her head so she will NOT have to undergo more surgery this week. Phew! They began the process of removing her life support systems and she seems to be handling the changes well. She is still intubated and breathing with the assistance of a ventilator but they are lowering her levels daily. Kayla’s food was increased over the day to 9 ml/hr and she seemed to be tolerating it well. We are still waiting on the latest set of genetic tests to come back regarding her muscle weakness. We expect to get some information in the next week or so. Unfortunately, if the tests come back negative, they will have to do a muscle biopsy on Kayla. It is a pretty invasive procedure where they remove a portion of her muscle tissue from her thigh and test it for a number of disorders. The doctors have decided to wait another week or two for her follow-up brain MRI & CT scans to make sure that there is enough time to show the changes in her brain development.
Jeff, my mom and I were all able to hold Kayla again today. She had her right eye open for long periods of time during the day. We were also able to dress Kayla for the first time today and she looked so adorable in her pink onesie and booties.
Jeff and I are hanging in there thanks to all of the support and love that have been coming our way. We feel so grateful to have all of you in our lives.
All the best,
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
On Tuesday (8/16), Kayla had another hard day. She started the day with a stomach ultrasound to check her liver for possible inflammation caused by the IV fluid they have been using to feed her. They will most likely have to stop using the fluid soon as it tends to cause liver damage with extended use. We are still waiting on the results of the ultrasound. Just after the ultrasound the doctor did a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) on Kayla to test her spinal fluid for infection. The initial results looked good but we will have to wait for a few days for the final report. Kayla also needed to have another IV put in as the one in her hand blew out again. Her little veins are so tiny that they are having a hard time keeping them in for more than a day. If she recovers from her infection soon, they will surgically put another catheter in her head so they can take out the other IV lines and hopefully stop sticking her with needles every day. They will have to wait at least 10 days from the time they started her antibiotics to make sure that the catheter doesn’t get infected like the first one. We are praying that she gets through this infection quickly.
Late yesterday afternoon, Kayla was taken down to radiology to have her feeding tube inserted into her lower bowel with an x-ray guided procedure. The procedure was successful so they began feeding Kayla milk again but only 1 ml/hour. They want to be conservative this time to give her body time to begin processing it. Her respiratory situation still hasn’t changed any so she is still intubated and being assisted by a ventilator.
Overall, Kayla has been very weak and lethargic over the last 24 hours but we aren’t surprised as she is probably exhausted from all of the procedures and testing yesterday. She is still very swollen and retaining fluid, especially in her face. We are hoping after she has had a chance to rest for a few days that we will begin to see some improvements in her overall health but especially in her muscle strength.
We are off to the hospital but will write more soon.
Monday, August 15, 2005
On Saturday (8/13), Kayla’s lungs finally cleared up and were fully expanded. We were so excited by this news! Her feeding tube was still not in the right place to begin her feedings but we hope, in the next few days, it will work its way into place.
On Sunday (8/14), Kayla’s lungs had continued to improve so the doctor took her off of the jet ventilator and put her back on her old ventilator. What a relief! Unfortunately, not long after the ventilator was removed, they discovered that the catheter that they had put into her head during surgery on Wednesday had gotten severely infected and had to be removed immediately. It was replaced by two IV’s in her hand and foot. I sat with her through the procedures and was horrified as they attempted to find a vein to use. After 6 attempts to put the IV’s in, I had to leave the room. Poor Kayla is becoming a human pin cushion. Right after her IV’s were in place, the doctor said she would also need to do another spinal tap in a few days to see if the infection had gotten into her spinal fluid. Ugh! They also received some lab results yesterday which showed that Kayla had a super low red blood cell count that required her to have a blood transfusion immediately. They gave her 50 ccs of blood starting last night. It just doesn’t seem fair to have to go through so much at such a young age. I wish there was something that I could do to protect her from all of this pain but I know that my hands are tied. All I can do is be there to hold her hand and let her know I’m there. I have never felt more helpless in my life!
On a positive note, Kayla seemed to show signs of improvement in her muscle weakness yesterday. When I was holding her hand during the IV procedures, she was squeezing my finger really hard. She was also pulling her arm back down when I lifted it up. This is more reaction then I’ve seen from her since she was born. I am eager to get to the hospital this morning to speak with her primary care doctor about this change. I wonder if some of her muscle issues have been due to the infection that she is recovering from. Hopefully, we will continue to see improvement in this area as this is the doctor’s biggest concern still for Kayla’s long term prognosis.
One last thing, last night when Jeff arrived at the hospital, Kayla opened her right eye for him. She had done that for me early in the week as well. It was a very tender moment for Jeff. There is something about seeing her eyes that made us both feel more hopeful that she will recover soon. So far, these are the only two times that she has opened her eyes according to the nurses.
Thank you again for all of your messages. Jeff and I have been so touched by each of them. We sit down each night to read them over and over again. They really help to keep us going on difficult days and help us to maintain a strong sense of hope for Kayla’s quick recovery.
Lisa, Jeff & Kayla
Saturday, August 13, 2005
They began placing her feeding tube into her stomach yesterday but it may take a few days for it to work its way into her lower bowel. Once it is properly placed they will begin feedings again. Hopefully once she is able to take the breast milk this will help her to begin fighting off any other potential bacteria that she is exposed to in the NICU.
We are heading out this morning to go visit with Kayla but will write more as things progress.
Lisa, Jeff & Kayla
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Kayla began physical therapy on Sunday afternoon (8/7) to try and get her muscles moving. She has not responded to the therapy yet but we are hopeful that it will help to strengthen her muscles over time.
Jeff was finally able to hold Kayla on Sunday night. It was such a sweet moment to see the two of them together. Even though she is almost 5 lbs., she looked so tiny in his arms.
On Tuesday (8/9), we got news that one of the genetic tests came back negative – thank God. That night she began respiratory therapy to help strengthen her lungs which will hopefully help to keep her from getting pneumonia which is common for babies who are intubated.
On Wednesday (8/10), Kayla had surgery to put in a catheter behind her right ear. This allowed the doctors to remove her umbilical arterial line. The surgery went well and they said that this would allow us to hold her without significant risk. However, we had to leave Kayla’s bedside the rest of the evening because of the death of another infant in the unit, so we were unable to hold her. It was a very sad night for everyone, but especially for the family of the baby girl who passed. It really brought home the reality of how sick the babies in this unit are.
Today, Kayla had an extremely rough day. Her left lung collapsed this morning, her blood platelet count dropped to significantly low levels and she had to be transfused. They also heard a heart mummer which they are monitoring. We should get results back on her EKG in the morning. Tonight her top right lung collapsed and her CO2 levels skyrocketed. She had to be switched to a more powerful ventilator which breaths 420 breaths per minute for her. This required them to fully sedate Kayla. In the last hour her vital signs have been a little more stable so we are hopeful that she will begin to improve and regain use of her lungs.
Kayla is still unable to digest food which is very discouraging. They are giving her lipids and fluid through an IV to try and maintain her weight but are hoping that she will eventually be able to process the milk. They are considering running a weighted tube directly into her lower bowel to see if that will help.
Thank you again for all of your messages, prayers and support for our family during this difficult time. We ask that you please keep our sweet little Kayla in your prayers.
Lisa, Jeff & Kayla
Sunday, August 7, 2005
Kayla is still unable to breath on her own but is showing some signs of respiratory improvement. She is still being assisted by a ventilator but hopefully the doctors will begin testing her off of the ventilator soon. Her eyes have not opened since she was born and her face is swollen from the excess fluid in her body. Hopefully, the swelling should go down once she is able to process food again. Kayla's neurologist has informed us that he doesn't believe that Kayla has a genetic disorder. He believes that Kayla's issues stem from her brain and he believes that she has 'central hypotonia' which means that she likely had a brain injury in utero. He believes that Kayla may have had a slow, cronic depravation of oxygen. Jeff and I are so devastated but are holding out hope that the doctors will learn more over the next few days and weeks.
I had a huge milestone on Friday night! The nurse let me hold Kayla for the first time since she was born. It was a little scary at first because she has an arterial line in her umbilical cord that if moved in the wrong way, could cause her to bleed severely and could possibly be fatal. I only felt comfortable because the nurse has worked in the same Neonatal ICU for the last 25 years and was very experienced. She said holding her was good for both of us. Finally holding Kayla for the first time was so magical. I have heard that the love you feel when you first hold your child is indescribable and now I completely understand. It was the best moment of my life! (I added a picture to the photo gallery) Unfortunately, Jeff was starting to feel like he was coming down with something so he stayed home that night. Hopefully, Jeff will be able to hold her sometime very soon.
Yesterday, Saturday (8/6), my Dad, sister Kathy, and my two nieces, Maya and Noelle, left to return back home to Santa Cruz. They were all here to help us for the past week. My Mom will remain here with us at our home in Rocklin until things settle down a bit.
After visiting with Kayla for several hours yesterday (8/6) Jeff and I both feel like she is beginning to move a little more and is starting to show signs of muscle resistance. The doctors still want to see more significant movements before they can say she is improving in any way.
As of today, Sunday (8/7), we haven't received any more results from her outstanding tests so we are still playing the waiting game.
We will continue to update you as things change.
All our love,
Lisa, Jeff & Kayla Vittek
Friday, August 5, 2005
The doctors have informed us that Kayla's health issues go beyond the normal issues of a premature baby. Yesterday, we met with her Neurologist, who had some finding from her brain MRI & CAT Scan. Unfortunately, the news was not very good but we are hopeful that she will prove the doctors wrong somehow. The doctors will continue progressive brain scans over the next few weeks to monitor her brain development and watch for changes in some abnormalities that they have discovered.
Kayla's neonatalogist ordered a spinal tap to help with her assessment. I saw my sister Kathy do a spinal tap on a baby a long time ago and almost passed out watching the procedure. It is so hard to think about sweet little Kayla being stuck with so many needles. Kayla has blood taken several times a day now to test for various things. I wish I could do something to protect her from all of this. Kayla's doctor confirmed that she has jaundice and they will begin UV light treatments immediately.
Lisa, Jeff & Kayla Vittek
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Today she underwent further tests and a brain MRI which we hope will give us some answers. Just after Kayla came out of her MRI her breathing became labored and an immediate X-Ray was ordered. It showed that her breathing tube was too far down her throat. Once they pulled the tube out just a bit, her breathing returned to normal. We were so scared but were so happy that she was doing better.
Lisa, Jeff & Kayla Vittek
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
My water broke early due to an increased amount of amniotic fluid and after an ultrasound of the baby, the doctors scheduled an immediate C-Section saying that the baby wasn't moving at all in the half hour ultrasound. Unfortunately, Kayla was born 8 weeks premature, showed signs of fetal distress and was not able to breath on her own at birth. She was revived and had to be intubated and put on a mechanical ventilator. The doctors and nurses rushed Kayla out of the delivery room without me being able to see her. I told Jeff and my mother to follow the doctors to make sure that Kayla was ok. She was immediately rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) (aka: Special Care Nursery (SCN)), where she is currently undergoing extensive testing and special care for what they are calling 'Floppy Baby Syndrome'. Kayla was not moving at all and had almost no muscle tone. Kayla's red blood cell count has come back too high so the doctors will also be testing her for jaundice.
Kayla at birth - July 28, 2005 1:38 pm
We are asking for your prayers for our little girl as she struggles to hang onto each breath of life.
I have returned home from the hospital and am recovering quickly from my surgery. I will probably be spending most of the next few months visiting with Kayla in the hospital. As of now we haven't even been able to hold her so we are staying by her bedside to let her know that we are here for her when she awakens and hopefully finally opens her eyes.
Jeff has returned to work but will be commuting to the hospital each night to be with the two of us.
We really appreciate the support, love and prayers that have been coming in and hope that you understand that we are unable to keep everyone updated by phone. Please bookmark this page for future updates and please leave us a message by clicking the 'Post a Comment' link below .
Thanks for your understanding and respecting our privacy at this difficult time.
Lisa, Jeff & Kayla