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Saturday, September 29, 2007

When babies are hatching plans...

I bet they look something like this.

And don't worry about the tube in his mouth - this photo was taken earlier this week. I was just looking through our pictures of him tonight after we got home from the hopital and thought this was a funny one to post.

And yes, even after spending all our time there we still come home and look at pictures of him.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Well, he sure takes after his parents in one respect: Henry is a healthy eater! In the past few days, we've been experimenting with nursing and bottle-feeding (as opposed to feeding him via tube), and I'm happy to report Henry has done great with both. Today he took two entire meals by bottle and had absolutely no trouble either time. Obviously, being able to take his food by mouth is one of the major prerequisites to coming home, so we're thrilled he's doing so well on this front.

In other news, Henry's doctors took away his nasal oxygen again. I was hoping they'd give him a little more time on it (as his mama, I don't especially like watching him struggle for oxygen), but they think he's ready to go it alone. We'll see if the change sticks this time; it would sure be nice to be rid of those icky tubes once and for all.

And -- as if all that weren't enough -- the nurse tonight said it's time to get him out of the heated incubator and into a crib. The plan is to continue to lower the temp in his "house" tonight and tomorrow, and then attempt a move tomorrow night. Being able to regulate his own body temperature is another big milestone, so we hope the little guy is up for it.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A very good day

Henry had a great day today, which his mother (that'd be me) desperately needed. Yesterday was stressful, filled with several unnerving drops in his oxygen level. Today he was completely stable, thank God. No one has any real explanation for why some days are good and some days are bad. Like we've said: rollercoaster.

Part of the improvement may be that Henry's finally dropped the extra fluid he was carrying around. He's down several ounces now and back to looking like a preemie instead of a chunky monkey, which I think will make it a little easier for him to breathe.

The nurses are guesstimating that the little guy will be home in about another month. His to do's before discharge include breathing without supplemental oxygen; learning to suck, swallow and breathe at the same time; and keeping his body temperature up in normal room air. May not sound like much to you and me, but these are big projects for someone who only weighs five pounds! Days like today make me think the rest of the way will be a cake walk, but we'll see how I feel about things tomorrow.

One quick note before I sign off: I apologize for all the phone calls and e-mails I haven't returned! I'm at the hospital every day from about 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and I don't have computer access or cell reception there. Just wanted to say how much we appreciate all the good thoughts; hopefully I'll find some time to catch up one of these days!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The NICU rollercoaster

Hi, everyone. Just a quick update. Henry Jay continues to do well. We're working our way through a game of two steps forward and one step back, a.k.a. the NICU rollercoaster. His days of two steps forward are blissful; he's disconnected from yet another tube or sensor and he becomes that much more cuddle-able. But the step-back days are tough and frustrating. For instance, the other day we all thought he was ready to come off the nasal oxygen. He breathed on his own for over 24 hours, but then completely pooped out. So now we're back to the oxygen and probably won't push him again for several more days.

But overall, we are encouraged as he continues to make progress. Two days ago he was moved to a nursery for older, more stable babies, and today he nursed a little for the first time! We celebrate these little victories, and continue to dream about the day he'll wake up in his nursery that Grandpa and Grandma Ohlhoff helped put together last week.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More adorableness

Henry is back to big-boy breathing as of this afternoon, so we took the opportunity to snap a few shots without the nasal cannula. Hopefully this time he'll stay off the oxygen, because he's so freaking cute without that crap on his face! (The tape is still there because the nurse didn't want to rip it off him, so we'll just wait for it fall off on its own.)

Here he is lying on daddy's chest during "kangaroo" time tonight:

And here's a short video of the little guy practicing his ball-handling skills...on his face:


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One week old

About time we updated this thing. Turns out life with a baby is very exhausting. Especially when the little pumpkin is in the hospital. :(

Here are some cute Henry expressions we caught recently. Clearly he didn't get the memo about preemies being tiny and skinny, because he is a total chunk! He is retaining some fluid as a result of his IV, but still -- he's up 1/2 a pound when they warned us he would be down 10% from his birthweight. I don't think that's all fluid.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Poor little guy has a lot of tubes and wires hooked up to him. In the past several days he's need a little oxygen flow through his nose, but they're saying that will come out tomorrow. The other thing on his face is his feeding tube, because babies don't figure out how to coordinate suck-swallow-breathe until around 34 weeks. He has sensors on him to track his temp, heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygenation. And he has a big huge IV (which he likes to pull out on a daily basis) pumping baby Gatorade and lipids. It makes it quite the ordeal to hold him -- we're looking forward to him shedding each one as gets stronger and more mature.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Henry Jay opened his eyes and stared at mommy for a good five minutes today. It was so exciting!

Baby boy is still working his way through some issues. The valve in his heart that normally closes right after birth in full termers didn't close (very common in preemies), so he had to have a little medication to deal with that. He is also a little jaundiced -- hence the pumpkin skin tone -- so he's currently hanging out in a miniature tanning bed complete with tiny protective sunglasses. And, he was tiring out from all that big-boy breathing on his own, so they decided to give him a little O2 through nasal prongs. All in all, the big picture is still great -- the doc says he continues to act like an older baby, so we'll take it.

We spent most of the day at the hospital, and he has now met 4/5 of his grandparents. We informed him today that we are expecting him to grow taller than his namesake, Chris's dad Henry (Hank) who is 6'7". Think he can do it?

I just called the NICU tonight for an update, and his nurse said is he behaving himself. At the end of the conversation, she added, "Oh, and he is SO adorable!" We'd have to agree. :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

He's a little guy

In case you couldn't tell how little Henry is, here's a picture we took earlier today of him holding Ali's finger near his face.

Tow-Headed Henry

How did we get such a light-haired son?

Henry's doing well on his third day. It seems he really enjoys palming his face like a bowling ball, and of course, he loves his sleep. He needs it -- he is still working through a few very small and very common things that occur in premies, but they're neither surprising nor particularly troubling. All things considered, he's still our little rock star, so we've renamed the title of his blog accordingly.


Henry Jay & the Ohlhoffs

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Henry's second day

Henry's mom here. I'm thrilled to report our baby boy is still doing great. He needed a little bit of oxygen assistance last night, but by morning he was breathing on his own again without laboring. What a big strong boy he is! (The doctor told us today that if he'd been born at term he probably would have been over 9 lbs!) They've told us it's not uncommon for preemies to go through setbacks -- meaning he may still require some periods of oxygen support if he starts to tire out -- but in general, he's off to a great start.

We just visited Master Ohlhoff in the nursery. He's getting along well with the nurses and his roommates, many of whom are half his size. Since he's so little, he sleeps most of the time and only cries a little bit when irritated, like when he's getting his diaper changed. He had his first meal of colostrum through a tube and he'll start bottle feeding within a week or two, they tell us. Apparently it's pretty tricky to suck, swallow and breathe all at once, so that's why he has to work up to it.

I got to do "kangaroo care" with him for about half an hour. This is when you hold the preemie skin-to-skin against your heart; it's very calming for them and has even been proven to shorten the stay in the special-care nursery. It was amazing to spend time together like that.

Oh! And this is kind of cute: I finally figured out the movement pattern I'd felt over the past several weeks, when a big bulge would stick out of the right side of my tummy with something jammed into my left ribs. Turns out his favorite position is to lie with one leg stretched out, one leg bent underneath him and his butt in the air. And what a cute little butt it is. He'll kill me for writing this when he reads the blog someday, but he let out a little toot while I was holding him. His dad and I thought it was about the cutest thing we'd ever heard. :-)

One more pic of the little guy and then I'll sign off, as Auntie Olivia and Grandma Iris will be here any moment to meet him. Thanks for all the love and support; we can't wait for you all to meet him, too!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Henry Jay Ohlhoff

...was born today, and he, and his heroic, patient, impressive, strong and adorable mother are both doing great. He's 4 lbs 13 oz and though he's in an incubator, and will be for a while as they assess what extra attention he may need, he really is doing rather well at the moment. He came out making noise and crying which is a fantastic sign - remind me of that in 3 - 6 months please.

I always teased Ali, well before this all began, that we'd have monster babies. Well, 4 lbs 13 oz clearly is not a monster baby. However, the average weight for a baby born at 31 and 4/7 weeks is about 3.5 lbs, so you can see he was well on his way to being the monster baby I always promised her, and among his 31 and 4/7 peers: he's a heavyweight.

Yay Henry Jay!!

Love to you all!!

-Chris and Ali


Does this kid possess a flair for the dramatic or what? It looks very likely that today could be the day. Ali just recieved an epidural for the pain of her contractions and she's trying to take a little nap before the real festivities begin. Everyone is doing just fine and I'll keep you updated as best I can. We continue to appreciate all the texts, calls, emails, thoughts and prayers.

Love Ali & Chris

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's not ALL BAD

Here's a photo of the patient enjoying her lovely and nutritious hospital lunch today. What's for lunch? It's a cheeseburger sitting underneath the bun. I bought the powerbar separately. I think my favorite part is the bib. No changes and no news is good news, so we're just biding our time waiting for the minihoff to properly introduce himself when he's ready.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Wake up Call

It's an interesting way to wake up. Going from a deep sleep to hearing, "wake up, I think my water just broke." That was 4:10 AM this morning. 20 minutes later I was wheeling Ali in to the hospital downtown with our overnight bags in tow.

That's where we are now and we'll be here until the minihoff decides he'd rather check out the outside world than remain within the comforts of his uteran home. Even with her water breaking he'll continue to produce amniotic fluid, so he's fine if he stays put, it just means that Ali faces the unenviable task of basically sitting in a puddle until he's born. If we make it to 34 weeks, the benefits of him staying inside cease to outweigh the slight risks, and she would be induced, but that seems like a long way off, and a long shot.

We're all doing well at the moment. She's under close watch, and so is he. She is not in labor, and no one is exhibiting any signs of duress. 50% of women go into labor within 48 hours of their water breaking, and of the other 50%, half of them go into labor within a week. So there's a 75% chance minihoff is being born within a week. That will make him a preemie, but we're in much better shape now than we were at our last scare at 25 weeks and since we've passed the 28 week mark. Though we're preparing to not go home with him, and know he'll probably have to stay in the NICU until roughly his due date (Nov. 9), we're hopeful that he'll display all the characteristics of an Ohlhoff -- being tough, being ahead of schedule, and being above average height and weight for his age -- that would hopefully get him home sooner than Nov. 9 and into his woefully under-prepared nursery.

We appreciate the continuing thoughts, prayers, and good vibes -- we feel them! Our love to you all, and I'll keep posting updates here as they develop since cell phone service in the hospital is pretty spotty.


Friday, September 7, 2007

I wonder, can he read yet?

Minihoff may be too young to read but when he's old enough I look forward to showing him the first letter that was addressed to him:

To the occupant in my uterus,

I am overjoyed that you are big and strong now. I have been through a
lot to get you to this point. And I understand you are rapidly
outgrowing your quarters. Nonetheless, I respectfully request that you
refrain from the battering of my ribs and sciatic nerve. I apologize if
they are in your way, but it's a losing battle -- you will not be able
to kick past them. Things should improve dramatically in about six to
eight weeks' time, I promise.

The Management


SIX WEEKS until I'm full term? How did this happen??

Next week we mark another big milestone: 32 weeks, or the point at which doctors are generally not concerned about long-term disabilities from prematurity. Of course, now I'm getting greedy and want at least 34.

My mom has been here all week treating me to the spa menu again. She also went shopping and bought all the little things minihoff will need: diapers, wipes, burp cloths, etc. (Good thing she knows what she's doing, because I sure don't!) And tomorrow, the crib arrives. Things are really starting to roll now, and it's amazing. We're so grateful.

minihoff continues to wriggle and squirm and kick like hell. Last night he nailed my sciatic nerve so hard I jumped about a foot off the bed. The night before that it was my rib cage -- he seems to be obsessed with the bottom left rib in particular. He also gets the hiccups at least once a day, poor kid.

Meanwhile, I'm becoming quite rotund -- the beached whale stage is just around the corner, if it isn't here already. Chris is nice enough not to laugh out loud, but I'm sure it's high comedy watching (and listening) as I try to get comfortable at night. Of course, the minute I've found a position that works, I have to get up to pee and the whole process starts all over again.

Here's the minihoff update from

"This week, your baby measures about 16 inches long. He weighs over 3 pounds and is heading into a growth spurt. He can turn his head from side to side, and his arms, legs, and body are beginning to plump out as needed fat accumulates underneath his skin. He's probably moving a lot, too, so you may have trouble sleeping because your baby's kicks and somersaults keep you up. Take comfort: All this moving is a sign that your baby is active and healthy."

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tuesday night and all is well

After yet another humdrum, "everything is fine" doctor's appointment today Ali and I fear we may be *gasp* boring? I mean, you would expect a ton of excitement from a woman who's been glued to her couch for 4 months, but no no, all is perfectly quiet here. No developments, no news to report, and we couldn't be more thrilled.

Happy birthday to my Dad today! The big 4-0. You don't look a day over 17!

Good night everyone, love Ali and Chris

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Another lazy Sunday

Just a quick shout-out from She Who Does Not Leave the Couch:


It's a serious bummer that I've missed the weddings of so many fantastic couples this summer. It's no secret that I LOVE weddings, and I know these were great ones. To Bri & Sal, Ibet, Meggie and Felish: I'm so sad I couldn't be there for your big days!

I also wanted to extend a HUGE thank you to our friends Pedro and Wendy and our friend Jen. Because of these three, we ate very, very well this weekend -- complete with homemade desserts and everything! I think the resident chef was particularly glad to be able to kick back and not worry about dinner two nights in a row. You guys are awesome!!!

Nothing much going on here (which is good, right!?!?). Chris is at the aforementioned Cubs' game, and I'm ... lying on the couch! How did you know? I'm trying to use this down time to brush up on my infant-care knowledge. I swear, I knew more about babies when I was a 14-year-old babysitter than I do now. Hopefully the skills will come back quickly.

A little about minihoff this week, from

"Your baby's a bit more than 15 1/2 inches long now, and he weighs more than 3 pounds. A pint and a half of amniotic fluid surrounds him, but that volume will decrease as he gets bigger and takes up more room in your uterus. His eyesight continues to develop, though it's not very keen; even after he's born, he'll keep his eyes closed for a good part of the day. When he does open them, he'll respond to changes in light but will have 20/400 vision — which means he can only make out objects a few inches from his face."

Hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend. And just for the record, I do NOT plan on laboring tomorrow, in any sense of the word. ;-)

Can you believe it? Part Deux

Not only is the minihoff 30 weeks and counting, and we're already on the shorter side of our latest goal to 32 weeks, but the Chicago Cubs are in 1st in the NL Central. Yep, life is pretty good in Chicago these days.

I may even try to take in the game this afternoon with my friend Sam, another very well-behaved and obedient husband who will also, no doubt, want to rush home after the game in lieu of partaking in celebratory cocktails.

The Ohlhoffs have "Entourage" to look forward to tonight, which, coupled with a Cubs win today may help assuage the pain of Michigan's college football loss to Appalachian State yesterday. What is it with Division I-AA schools (UNH last year against Northwestern -- ahem! -- and Appalachian State yesterday) toppling Big Ten powerhouses? Fun to watch for the little guys, but not the Michigan fans.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.