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every baby deserves beauty - the thoughts of a "heart mom" on valentines day

nikki mcclure prints for lachlan's crib in the icu

Of course you knew that I wouldn't let icky plastic cribs and blinking, beeping technology get in the way of my Montessori "beautify-the-child's-environment" Mojo. Of course, you also know that I am grateful for all of this blinking, beeping plastic that will keep my baby alive. But really, now - ICUs for babies and children should be designed to meet the practical medical needs of the children and staff, as well as meeting the mental and emotional needs of the littlest of patients. Perhaps that will be my next career turn - pediatric ICU design consultant.

You know me. I'm feisty when it comes to the topic of early childhood development. And you know what? That strong streak of feisty has come in handy in this situation with Lachlan. Those who know us personally also know that we are, by no means, loud and pushy people. Perhaps we fancy ourselves bold and brave in our own heads, but when we operate in the real world, we are super polite and, at times, too accommodating. One of Lachlan's doctors even said to Patrick "I can tell that you're very cautious. Don't be."

But nonetheless, we have managed to push Duke to change their standard protocol for babies with HLHS in favor more child-friendly care. We arrived on scene armed with LOTS of questions, medical journal studies, and a respect for the medical staff but a desire to work together with them as a team which will look over not only Lachlan's physical needs, but his emotional and mental needs as well. We are (surprisingly!) the first family that the cardiac team has met with to address our questions and concerns before the arrival of our baby. Lachlan is the first HLHS baby who will NOT be whisked away immediately to get IVs established and have his first extra-utero echocardiogram (essentially an ultrasound of the heart). Since Lachlan has stable HLHS anatomy, he will only be in danger a good deal (hours or days) after birth when the duct that is present in his fetal heart, supplying blood to his body, begins to close. So we will get 30 minutes of bonding time with him before they need to take him to establish his IV drip, which will deliver a drug to keep that duct open until his surgery. Patrick also pushed his way (oh-so-politely, of course!) into Lachlan's "stabilization" time. Up until his kind request to be present to keep a hand on Lachlan's head and speak calming words into his ear while he is assessed and tested, no parents have been present during this time. Sometimes you just have to ask.

We also arrived at a propitious moment: they will be allowing Lachlan to suckle a small amount of my expressed breastmilk through a bottle before surgery (not directly from the breast as this requires much more energy, but at least he won't completely lose his suckling and swallowing instinct, and this should help him to return to oral feeding after surgery.) Up until recently, the standard of care for these babies was to not feed them until after their first surgery.

In all of this maneuvering for Lachlan's best interests, I've kept Jennifer's words in mind:  I most certainly do not give myself a hard time about the things in life that are out of my control.  And I pursue all of the things in my life that are.

Such wisdom there.

In the spirit of making the most of the situation, I bought a handful of Nikki McClure greeting cards to use as black and white images for decorating the inside of Lachlan's crib (for the times when we can't be holding him.) We have some Wee Gallery prints from Finn's infancy, but Nikki's prints have a depth and a sweet meaningfulness to them that the Wee Gallery prints lack; images of parents and babies doing everyday, homemaking tasks such as picking berries, rolling dough, breastfeeding, planting seeds, gathering wood, and snuggling. Things that Lachlan will be missing out on during his time in the hospital. Somehow, through these images, I want to convey that he has a wonderful life to look forward to in our family.

nikki mcclure baby book

I also couldn't resist this baby book.

nikki mcclure baby book 2

Would you look at that? Both Mama and Baby are wearing pixie hats! It was meant to be.

More on Project "Beautify the ICU" tomorrow!