Tag Archives: gift

day 2360: Odin The Merry Maker!



odin recently proclaimed that he wanted to make christmas gifts for all his friends. while quite an ambitious goal, it’s perfectly reasonable considering he’s stated his belief that homemade things are always waaaaaaay better than things from a store.

he’s carefully considering what each friend might like and decided that one friend in particular would surely enjoy a red cape for “playing knights”.

so, with a little help from mama, odin sewed a cape!



odin, modelling his creation. it turned out quite nice! we’re super proud of him for taking on such a great project. i’m sure his friends will really enjoy his handywork.

time for an odin etsy store?

the eric update – day 382: odin’s magnificently metaphorical birthday box!

day 382: odin's magnificently metaphorical birthday box! I.

well before odin’s first birthday kris decided that she’d like to give him a special box as a gift. she didn’t have any grand plans and initially thought that she might make him a simple box that he could use to store whatever special things he might chose to store as he got older. but when his grandma and grandpa salmi heard of the plan, they thought a local wood carver in the upper peninsula of michigan with an interest in traditional norwegian wood carving might be amenable to taking on the challenge of creating a one of a kind gift.

as it happens their friend had studied under phillip odden a renound professional wood carver who has taken it upon himself to revive the dragon or stave church style of carving; he was so enamored with our own odin’s story that he decided to create a fantastically detailed mythological scene of the norse god odin slaying a dragon in the traditional dragon style!

day 382: odin's magnificently metaphorical birthday box! II.

of course, the metaphorical significance of all the dragons that odin has slain and has yet to slay does not escape us :-)

the detail and craftmanship is astounding and it completely and totally surpasses anything we could have imagined.

many many thanks to grandma and grandpa salmi for commissioning the work of art and to steve lindahl for spending what must have been countless hours carving the box.

it’s absolutely perfect and we’ll keep it the family for generations to come.

day 382: odin's magnificently metaphorical birthday box! III.

>odin’s birthday box even has shelves!

and it’s a big box!

pictures really don’t do justice to how well the box is made. it’s built to last.

day 382: odin's magnificently metaphorical birthday box! IV.

odin’s “real” name and birthdate are carved on the inside of his birthday box cover.

day 382: odin's magnificently metaphorical birthday box! V.

a closeup of the cover of odin’s birthday box that shows more of the incredible detail.

day 382: odin's magnificently metaphorical birthday box! VI.

and closer still for more of the detail on the cover.

i don’t really know that much about wood carving, but all the curves and bevels (?) seem like they’d take a great deal of time and energy.

day 382: odin's magnificently metaphorical birthday box! VII.

of course the odin’s birthday box comes with the most impossibly perfect key!

it’s the archetypal key for a young odin to lock away whatever treasures might require safe keeping.

day 382: odin's magnificently metaphorical birthday box! VIII.

o.k. maybe this should have just been deleted, but something about the way he’s trying to figure out why grandpa salmi is attempting to get him to look at the camera makes me laugh.

so i kept it :-)

the eric update – day 57: a nice, quiet day. but liver problems looming?

day 57: wide-eyed wonderment

today was a relatively quiet day, with nary an alarm and only the occasional, normal “desat” ( lowering of the percentage his blood oxygen, which is associated with bradycardia and apnea ) that he seemed to be able to pull out of all by himself. he put on about an ounce and tipped the scales at 3 pounds, 4.7 ounces or 1495 grams; also, he’s an astonishing 41.5 centimeters or about 16.33 inches, which means he’s added over an inch to his length since the last time they measured him, and he’s over 4 inches longer than his birth length!

unfortunately, we discovered that eric’s conjugated or “direct” bilirubin levels are rising, which is cause for some concern and eric will get increasingly jaundiced, if the cause is not discovered. it might sound like eric is just having another bout of the physiologic jaundice that all babies can get which can be fixed by phototherapy, but unfortunately things are not that simple.

the two types of jaundice have different causes and different treatments. the good news is that we’re probably seeing the result of eric’s liver getting “sludgy” ( the neonatal nurse practitioner’s term, i swear ), which is not too uncommon after switching back and forth between intravenous feeds and breastmilk ( which is what has happened to eric ); if the cause really is eric’s sludgy liver then we can expect the issue to resolve itself after he gets back on full feeds. but there are also many other less fun things that can cause higher levels of conjugated bilirubin and they are currently trying to rule those out. he’ll have an ultrasound of his liver sometime during the night and they drew a bunch of blood for a panel of liver function tests, but we won’t know the results of those tests for a couple of days.

if it’s not one thing, it’s surely another in the nicu.

in most of the pictures of eric, there is an overhead light on that provides the ambient light. however, 99% of the time there is no light on because micropreemies like things dim and quiet. normally i try to time the pictures around eric’s regular interactions with the nurses, so i don’t have to turn on the light more than normal.

although having the lights on allows for easier picture taking, it will cause eric to squint in many pictures. but most of the time, he’s not squinting, but rather is looking around with big, round eyes.

today, the x-ray viewer was turned on, which provided just enough ambient light for me to catch a shot without eric quinting. he is relaxing and has is hands behind his head ( e.g. like here ) and is looking around with a look of wonder.

day 57: eyelashes

eric has enormous eyelashes, which me most certainly got from me. when i was young, i had a teacher that was convinced that i curled my eyelashes and wore mascara.

nope. no makeup was required, just the right genetics.

day 57: eric IV.  the mobile edition.

thanks to the fine folks at flickr and my sidekick, i have a really good answer whenever people on the street ask me how eric is doing and if i have any pictures in my wallet.

while i don’t have any in my wallet, i do have over 200 “in” my phone :-)

( don’t get me wrong, the original sidekick sucks in every other possible way and shouldn’t be used if you want anything resembling a reliable phone. but i guess i can’t say anything about the new model ).

perhaps you have never had the occasion to try out the site on the small screen, but a lot of hard work has obviously gone into getting things to work quite smoothly.

incidentally, cell phones are banned in the nicu, but i believe the banishment is for social and not technical reasons, since you can often hear civilian’s cell phones going off ( i.e. someone in the area probably always has a phone on and it doesn’t cause any problems ) and some of the hospital staff ( respiratory techs in particular ) take calls on cell phones while they are in room. so, while i don’t take calls, i’m usually available for instant messaging or answering flickr photo comments.

day 57: i come in peace.  and bearing ( ahem ) gifts.

i forgot to take a photo yesterday of some of the nice gifts sent by my sister that we gave to eric on his second lunar birthday. the bear makes a wooshing womb sound that is supposed to be soothing for babies. and he’s wearing necklaces with the symbol for “odin’s knot”, which is quite appropriate since eric is otherwise known as odin. she also sent a couple of blank postcards with the the original odin on the front. oh, and there was also a pair of vans. it might be awhile before he fits into them, but we’ll surely keep them around and get a picture of the event.

you can hear the sound the bear makes by watching this movie.

the eric update – day 48: gifts! last transfusion? no alarms (except pops induced)!

day 48: loose cannula

there’s no doubt about it. we’re back to the ho-hum days that are mostly filled with kangaroo care.

eric is being transitioned from the cpap to the nasal cannula much more quickly than previous attempts. today, they altered his schedule to alternate between 4 hours of cpap and 4 hours of the cannula. amazingly, he only had 2 brady’s (bradycardia, or slowing of his heart rate ), the entire day and both were while he was on my chest, which, of course led to endless jokes from kris and nurse jan. both brady’s were due to his head slowly getting into a position that made it difficult for eric to breath. of course, whenever eric’s on my chest he seems to enjoy putting his head in the position that will lead to a brady. i imagine that he thinks it’s a fun game to have me move his head in the correct position, only to move it slowly and imperceptibly back to the wrong one. over and over we play the game and sometimes he wins and has a brady.

eric also likes to tug on his nasal cannula, pulling the prongs out of his nose. if he weren’t doing so well breathing on his own, we’d know when the prongs were out of his nose, as his blood oxygen levels would start to decrease. but since he is breathing so well, we don’t see the “desat” and only later discover that his prongs have been out for as long as 10 or 15 minutes at a time, which is yet another sign that he’s getting stronger.

day 48: eric meets babo the ugly doll

some longtime friends, matt and erin, who we haven’t seen in awhile came into town this weekend bearing gifts! eric was happy to receive his new ugly doll, even if the nurses were all a little perplexed as to what an ugly doll was and why on earth anyone would want to buy one. but we don’t care what they think, since eric and the ugly doll got along quite famously and found themselves in long, heated discussion about which of them was taller.

day 48: eric and babo discuss who's longer

clearly, the ugly doll has no grounds for his assertion that he is, in fact taller than eric.

day 48: eric's new handcrafted knit cap

in addition to giving him the ugly doll, they also gave him a cap that erin knitted with her very own hands! the nurses were all very impressed that the cap was knit by a nicu rookie, since it can be tough to make the cap snug, but not too snug, and it should also be quite stretchy in all directions to accomodate the various forms that his very malleable head might take on from day to day. there’s a bit bucket of “discards” in the waiting room outside the nicu that have been knitted by volunteers but that haven’t passed the quality control inspection from the nicu staff, but eric’s cap won’t be in it, because it’s about as perfect as you could want it to be. thanks!

day 48: diaper change from pops. I.

there’s nothing special about the fact that i’m changing eric’s diaper, but i couldn’t remember ever providing photographic evidence to dispute any lingering suspicions that i might be trying to shirk diaper changing duties.

day 48: diaper change from pops. II.

it’s a bit more tricky to change his diaper these days, since it is seemingly impossible to not get the velcro on the diaper stuck on the shirt before you get all the cords and lines out of the way.

day 48: diaper change from pops. III.

as i change his diaper, it strikes me that as odd to think that some day we’ll actually change his diaper and not have to worry about pulling out IV or feeding lines or detaching sensors.

day 48: diaper change from pops. IV.

it occured to me that i’ve only casually mentioned his intravenous feeding and having discussed at greater length a very important element of how well eric is doing.

day 48: total parenteral nutrition.

so it’s time for a short course in parenteral nutrition, where parenteral refers to food that enters the body through a blood vessel. in what is known as total parenteral nutrition, all of the essentials ( carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals ) are delivered directly through an IV line in one of eric’s veins.

day 48: lipids

despite all the active research that has gone into parenteral nutrition and fact that it’s probably one of the greatest reasons that eric has been able to keep growing despite suffering from pneumonia, i can’t help but feel that the bag of fluids look suspiciously like gatorade and the the syringe surely must be filled with lard and not some state of the art blend of short chain lipids as they claim.

day 48: another feeding

day 48: eric's 16th transfusion

eric received three more transfusions today which brings him to a grand total of 17 thus far. he needed the transfusions because he still has a hard time making new blood as quickly as he breaks it down and they’re talking a lot of samples out to keep close track his immune blood counts while he has pneumonia. we were told today by nurse jan that, if things went as they expected, today’s transfusions would be the last he’s likely to receive during his stay in the nicu!

day 48: checking his lungs

eric’s lungs are sounding so good that it’s not really clear whether they’d still would say that he has pneumonia. in other words, he might just be fully recovered!

day 48: pooh borrows the cap

it’s interesting to note that while we were free to explore giving “directed donations” ( where we give the blood that eric would receive ), we didn’t because it apparently takes so long to process and screen the donations that they often get the donations back after they are no longer needed. also, the screening criteria for neonatal donations is so rigorous ( i.e. can’t have any antibodies for many common ailments ) that it’s often difficult for the parents to pass the screening test. so while the staff would never prevent us from giving blood, they’ve always strongly hinted that it’s easier, safer and faster to just get transfusion from their trusted pool of special neonatal donors.

day 48: ending the day with a little 'roo

because they have to monitor his blood pressure and other vitals closely during the transfusion, there’s no kangaroo care to be had during the process. of course, kris wasn’t going to let let three transfusions get in the way of lots of kangaroo care, so she simply had to time the sessions differently than normal. speaking of timing, while you might think that we can just waltz into the nicu and do the ‘roo, in addition to having to work around the transfusions, we also have to be aware of the nurses rounds which occur every two hours. and it’s also nice to get the kangaroo care in while he’s on the nasal cannula as the cpap mask can have a hard maintaining a good fit while he’s doing the ‘roo. so there’s quite a few “knowns” that we have to deal with in addition to the usual array of “unknowns”, such as getting kicked out abruptly in the evening, just after kris had settled in with eric, to prepare for two new admits.

the eric update – day 32: yet more alarms. bile. gifts!

day 32: another finger grab

yowza. even after getting a dose of lasix, which is a diuretic meant to help his get rid of the fluid that he was retaining after the transfusions, eric weighed in at 978 grams or 2 pounds 2.3 ounces, which would seem to indicate that his weight gain over the past few days was more “real” than not. yeah!

after a cluster of alarms in the morning, eric had a quiet afternoon and then started up with them again in the evening. though he “only” had eleven a’s and b’s by the time we left, they were disturbingly “deep” in the evening, requiring a lot of effort to get him “jumpstarted”, necessitating a big jump in ‘oooooohs’ ( supplemental oxygen – remember, anytime they increase his ‘ooooohs’ he’s at an increased risk for eye problems down the road. it’s all so very, very connected. ). at a certain point i was left wondering if it might be best to just put him back on the vent to give him a rest. and we noticed before we left late at night that he was starting to use his intercostal muscles, which are the muscles lying between ribs, during his breathing; it might seem like a minor point, but it means that he’s he’s getting quite tired, and trying to recruit more muscles to help him to breath, which only makes him more tired. his nurses were still holding out hope that he’d settle down over the night, so i guess we get to play another round of The Waiting Game.

day 32: bile on the side

at one point i was able to capture one of those special nicu moments that involves bile, poop and breathing. the syringe is filled with a mixture of undigested milk with a little bile, which is what gives it a green tint. the tube gets filled when he refluxes fluid back out of his stomach. there are a number of reasons why he might reflux , one of which being that he might be trying to poop, which is why kris is checking his diaper.

if he struggles to poop, he’ll put too much pressure on his abdomen and force the contents of his stomach up into the tube.

besides being slightly gross, the pressure will also affect his vagus nerve which will slow his heartrate and breathing, resulting in bradycardia or apnea – which is exactly what happened right after i took this picture.

day 32: his first collegiate t-shirt!

amongst the postcards we received today, we also were happy to find a toddler t-shirt from some of eric’s new friends who are attending penn. i doubt they have micropreem cloths at the penn giftstore so they sent him a 6 month shirt for a full term baby.

as you can see, it might be awhile before he’s able to wear it.

thank you very much melody ( and your roommate too! ). i can’t hardly wait until i can take a picture when it fits him properly. it’s astounding to think that complete strangers have gone through all the effort to send him such a gift and words really can’t describe how touching we find the gesture.

we also received a bunch more postcards today. it means a great deal to us to be able to walk into the nicu and read everyone’s supportive postcards. i need to get my act together and find a way to show everyone where all his cards are coming from. special thanks go out to adam and johanna who are friends from california who appear to be traipsing around california and sending postcards from los angeles to sonoma to san francisco. eric IV enjoys each and every one of them ( as do we, of course ). thanks!

day 32: his new favorite blanket

later in the evening we would get the chance to put him under a super soft blanket that some friends gave eric when he first arrived in the nicu. the nurses all commented on how comfortable he looked nestled in it. it’s big enough that i think he’ll be able to enjoy it for his entire stay. he seemed to like to rub his hand against the plush border of the blanket.

day 32: being held

after a tough day, eric enjoys being held by kris. it’s not quite as good as kangaroo care, but it’s good enough.

much, much later in the evening ( o.k. really, it was early, early, early the next morning ) we called the nicu and eric had finally settled down with his alarms, so it looks like we can sleep relatively easily.