Francesca Maria.

A Preemie Baby's Daily Diary.

Still at the NICU (Part 2).

Welcome to my site My name is Francesca Maria, I was born on April 22, 2007, a 29-week premature baby (preemie), weighing only 1.46 kilos (3 lbs. 3 oz.). I post here some news about me as I grow up.

NOTE: This is Part 2 (1 month till homecoming)
- Previous is Part 1 (birth to Month 1)
- Freshest News (Part 3) is HERE.

June 19, 2007, AM: I'm going home today!!

Today will certainly be a day to remember, the doctors here at the NICU decided I was a big girl, and told me I could go home to my parents, I am so happy! I just called them and they are coming to get me.

June 18: What a nice package I got!

Thanks to my aunt's friend Laurence from Paris (France), for the wonderful gift she sent me, so beautiful! And it's from my favorite company BabyGap! I am looking forward to wearing the clothes and playing with the toys as soon as I go home. There even is a musical toy that plays my (soon-to-be) favorite tune from The Nutcracker of Tchaikovsky, cool!

June 17: Happy Father's Day to my Dad!

I found out that today is Father's Day, and so I put on my "I Love Daddy" shirt that my Mom secretly bought for me, and my Dad was very happy about that. Apart from that today I turned 8 weeks old, I am one of the oldest preemies here at the NICU. They even moved me to the 7th floor of this hospital because there are too many little babies that they have to take care in the incubators. I am now a big girl and so a normal room will do just fine. I just hope tomorrow's biopsy results will ok so they can send me home.

June 15: I had my biopsy today.

Today the GI surgeon came with his instruments and gave me a rectal biopsy of the colon, not a very agreeable procedure, but not painful and lasting only 10 minutes. I think they want to check that my nerves down there are in order. I hope the result of this test will be ok. I suppose I'll hear about it on Monday, since the weekends are very quiet here at the hospital.

June 14: Waiting for the (hopefully) last test.

Yesterday my parents were told to get a medecine for me for when I'll be home. It's called "Ursodiol" or "Actigall", and my parents got it immediately, hoping for an imminent discharge. But there was a little setback today, the GI surgeon passed by and told us the last test the NICU ordered was a biopsy of my intestines to see if all was ok, and that he'll do it only tomorrow, because today he did not bring his instruments along. So if the test is tomorrow and the results take 24-48 hours, I'll have to stay another weekend with all these tiny preemies, what a bore. At least my parents come and see me when they can and they make me feel good. Now just tell me one thing - what's the point of a surgeon coming over without his instruments?

June 13: I'm starting to count minutes.

I must be close to discharge, as today they gave me a Synagis shot, which apparently they give preemies just before discharge. Well I won't be holding my breath, as my doctors have been known for telling me "mañana" more than once... Read about all preemie immunizations on my Useful Info Page.

June 12: René made a comic for me!

My parent's friend René from Holland made a comic for me, I am so happy! You can click on the comic below to see it a little larger.

Apart from that, the GI doctor checked my tummy today, making me drink some special milk and then making an x-ray of my tummy at regular intervals to see where the milk had gone. After all that high technology, all he said is that I had "reflux", and that it's quite normal. Read about it on my Useful Info Page.

June 11, 2007: The Indian doctor is not happy.

Let me give you some background about our doctors here at the NICU. There actually is a large group of Neonatal doctors who are responsible for all the NICU departments of all Miami area hospitals. Therefore here at the SMH we have several doctors who rotate on a regular basis. Well today taking care of me was a nice doctor from India. I had already met him, he is the one who starved me a few weeks ago when I had a stomach ache, but thank God I got better then. Well now the same doctor brought me again some bad news, my level of bilirubin is still too high, and so they need to keep me a few more days to let the new medecine take effect, and to see if they don't need to do something else to me. They said that normally jaundice should disappear after the first 2 weeks of life, and I'm already 7 weeks old. So they have called another GI doctor to see me shortly, I hope that my bili will be better tomorrow and that the new doctor will leave me alone. That's a good way to fight unemployment, doctors keep calling other doctors to help them out. I've probably seen dozens of doctors since I was born, I would prefer to be home and see as few of them as possible.

Today I beat the world record, I drank my whole milk bottle in less than 1 minute!

June 10: A gift came from Montpellier, France!

I forgot to tell you yesterday that I received a package from across the ocean, with a nice dress, a sweater, and a very cute toy. I love it, one of the reasons being it's smaller than me (not many things are smaller than me). If you could please help me to find an appropriate name for it, I would be grateful. Thanks to Carole, I hope to fly to France sometime at the end of the summer or in the fall and meet her personally.

Thanks to my French friends for sending me this very cute toy!

June 9: A peaceful weekend.

Not much to do this weekend, except to wait for my Monday morning blood test, which I hope will show my bilirubin level to be lower. It should be lower, because since yesterday they started giving me some new medecine specially for that. I'm not sure of the name of the medecine, but I'll find out tomorrow, and I'll add it to my Useful Info page. Today my parents received the monitor on which I will be hooked after my discharge, so it seems the "D" day is approaching...

My mother is so sweet, I love it when she breastfeeds me.

June 8 PM: The last turn before discharge?

Today I had a visit from the GI doctor, he did a liver ultrasound, and concluded I was fine. I overheard my main doctor say they probably would let me go home early next week together with an apnea monitor. I don't care if it's with a monitor, I want to go home! In case you don't know what "GI" or "apnea monitor" are, I Googled those terms and summarized the results in my Useful Info Page. Now after all that work I can go back to sleep. Now please do two things for me: 1) Vote for the pictures you like best in my new photo album and 2) play my photo puzzle.

You can enlarge both photos of me and my Mom above by clicking on them. To the left you can see me sleeping in my Dad's arms.

June 8, AM: Playing games.

I think I deserve to go home soon. But before that the doctors want to give me a liver ultrasound, just to make sure I'm fine. On one hand I'm upset, but on the other I hope they are doing all this checking for me to be discharged in fine health. To change subjects, in my free time, I created a special Preemie Puzzle. Try to solve it by clicking here. You may need to click "refresh" to make sure the design comes out correctly.

June 7, PM: I feel much better today.

I am definitely feeling better today. I'm eating well, going to the bathroom fine, and they even bathed me tonight, so I'm nice and clean. Now my fate (I mean the decision abou my imminent discharge from the NICU) will depend on the blood test they will do to me tomorrow morning at 6 AM. I hope my hemoglobin and hematocrit will be high and my bilirubin will be low. Boy is medecine complicated. Keep your fingers crossed for me please.

I'm sure you already know that the image on the left can be enlarged by simply clicking on it.

June 7, AM: I got a diploma!

Below you will see my very first document, with my footprints taken less than 1 minute after I was born. By the way, those are my true footprints, no kidding! The total length of my feet was 2 inches, which is about 5 cm.

Click on the Certificate to see it bigger.

June 6, PM: A new and Improved Photo Album.

I'm so bored here at the NICU that I spent some time (with the help of my Dad of course) designing a new photo album for you to enjoy. All the photos are by my Dad and show me from the very beginning at my birth on April 22, till now. The good thing about this album is that you can click on any thumbnail to enlarge it, and then you can rate any photo from 5 (highest) to 1 (lowest), and the photos with highest rating move up the page. It's a cool effect, and so I would appreciate if you would choose the photos you like best (or worst) and rate them consequently. You're only allowed to vote once for each photo. I'd love to see which photos are your favorite. Thanks!

June 6, AM: Too high Bilirubin.

Those doctors are never happy. I was glad to see this morning that my hemoglobin and hematocrit came back up as they should, but unfortunately my bilirubin is now too high. For info on those complicated terms, visit my Useful Info page. So they will keep testing my blood daily and will let me go home only when all my numbers are good at the same time. Let's hope it happens by Friday, otherwise they will have to call in another doctor speciallized in liver problems. I sure don't want to have liver problems at my very young age. Now to change subjects, you can see on the photo below I'm in the middle of a physical therapy session.


June 5, 2007: Good news and bad news.

OK, let me start with the good news: My Mom came today to feed me and I was quite surprised, instead of giving me that plastic bottle I don't like very much, she started breastfeeding me, and I was very impressed with the freshness of that milk, very, very tasty. And much softer to suck on. I hope she will continue, I liked that, it's has a much more human touch to it. Now let me tell you the bad news. After my blood transfusion of yesterday, my h&h (see below) did not really improve much, and so they have to give me another blood transfusion later today. They want me to be in perfect shape before going home. I just hope the next transfusion will be the last. I'll tell you about my blood results tomorrow.

Click on the photo on the left to enlarge it.

June 4: I feel too weak to go home.

I guess I must have been spending too much effort to convince people to let me go home, they did a blood test to me this morning, and both my hemoglobin and hematocrit were a little too low. So when my parents came to see me they saw the IV in my hand and the blood transfusion was in progress. But don't worry it does not hurt, I've seen much worse. One good thing to report: my Grandma (on my mother's side) came to see me from very far away, and she was so happy to see me, I was happy to meet her too!

June 3: Let me go home!

It seems during the weekend, whatever noise I could make (well I don't really make any noise at all), nobody wanted to take the decision to let me go home. I guess next week will be the one to shoot for. I think it's because they want to give me some kind of vaccination. I now weigh 2,140 grams and they feed me 35 ml every 3 hours. OK, well I'll go back to sleep now, no point making faces, nobody pays attention.

June 2: When will I go home?

Today I turned 35 weeks! That's 35 weeks gestational age based on a 40-week pregnancy. That means that I normally would only be born in 5 weeks' time (recall I was born at 29 weeks, 6 weeks ago). But nevertheless everybody here at the NICU started checking the calendar, writing different things down, they sent my Mom and Dad downstairs to get something. My Mom later came back with a very big smile, holding a pink document, but it was written too small for me to see what it was about. So when will I go home? Mystery. Below you will find a nice photo of my hand above my Mom's hand, you can click the photo to enlarge it.

June 1: Getting Ready to go home.

It seems I know everything around here, the NICU has no secrets for me. Whatever they teach me to do, I do well. I passed the car seat test last night. No big deal, really. I could do tougher things I'm sure. Also, as you can see on the photo with my Dad below, I am no longer in an incubator as those other tiny babies, but I am now in an open air crib, that way I get fresh air on me, like adults do, I like it, it makes me feel grown-up. And let me add I eat well, that milk of my Mom is actually quite tasty. All that's left for the hospital to do is to check I can do well without the medications Zantac and Reglan which I have been taking up to now, but it should be ok, I hope. Click on the little photos to see them bigger. Did you notice the nice little bear on my shirt on the first photo on the left?

May 31st, 2007: I got an "A+" today!

What a successful day. I had an eye exam the other day, and today also a hearing exam. And today I got my grades: I passed both with the best results possible. I also have been drinking 50 ml of milk each 4 hours, and all via the bottle without help of the nose tube. On top of that I am now in an open crib, no more incubator for me! Next to me are some small kids of barely over 1 kilo, I'm already 2.1 kilos, so I've got to show them how to behave. One more thing: the nurse called my parents today and asked them to bring the car seat over, so they can test it with me in it to see if it is comfortable I guess. It seems I have been doing so well that they are considering graduating me earlier than planned, maybe I can go home in 1 week? That would be so cool, I am looking forward to seeing my room, it's too noisy here at the hospital and they keep the light on all the time, I want to go home!

Click on the small photo to see it larger.

May 30, 2007: My clothes are too small!

Can you believe it, my favorite kimono-top (size Preemie) is now too small, and my parents brought me a body suit (size Newborn), but it is much too large, I look ridiculous. I'll have to drink a lot of those milk bottles to grow into it. Well today I did a good job, I drank all 40 ml from the milk bottle they gave me. Thanks in advance for the congratulation emails, I certainly deserve them, it's so tough to suck on those bottles! Note: I put on my Useful Info page the 3 medecines I am taking now.

You can click on the image to the left to see it bigger.

May 29, 2007, Evening: I like taking baths.

I want to show all of you that I am quite a well behaved little lady, and tonight (as well as many nights) I take a bath so that I can go to bed smelling good and refreshed. I like to be pampered, that's nice!


May 29, 2007, PM: My First Family Photo.

Today the first photo was taken of me with my Mom and Dad, I am very happy about that. It was taken by my favorite nurse at the NICU, called "Mimi".

May 29, 2007, AM: I got a package!

Today is sure to stay in my memory as a great day. I found out from my parents that the postman came today to our family home to deliver a package addressed... to me! Yes indeed it had my name, my own name "Francesca Maria" on the box! Wow. I was so happy to get a letter last week, but now such a big package! And it was a sweet gift, such a beautiful soft toy, I am so happy! Thanks to Sébastien who sent it, I am sure we will be best of friends when I get to meet him personally.

This is the package from Sébastien that made me so happy this morning!

Monday May 28, 2007: I'm a big girl now.

I showed them all I'm a big girl now, and they understood. They are now feeding me 40 ml every 4 hours, and each time they start me with the bottle, like they do with big babies. Of course it's very tiring to suck milk from a bottle, and so sometimes I fall asleep after sucking a little and they let the rest flow through the tube. But I overheard the nurse say that I was doing very well for a 34-week [gestational age] little girl. Good for me! They hope that by next week I will drink the whole bottle from the mouth. Well we'll see, the status quo is not so bad either for me, as long as they feed me and I can sleep as much as I want I won't complain.

Sunday May 27: I'm 5 weeks old today.

Well folks they did not let me starve. Thank God. They feed me now 10 ml every 3 hours and I hope they will go back to where I was a few days back (I was at 40 ml every 3 hours). So that you realize how little they feed me, I can tell you that 1 ml (milliliter) = 1 cc (cubic centimenter) = approx. 20 drops. 15 cc = 15 ml = 1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce. So they are giving me less than 1 tablespoon of milk every 3 hours, a pittance! But at least they say my stomach is ok, for the moment. I hate when they say "for the moment", as if they expect things to go wrong at any time. Boy is it tough over here, you've got to fight to get a bite to eat. My 5 weeks birthday today corresponds to 34 weeks gestational age, which is 6 weeks earlier than normal childbirth age. Previously they told me that I may be able to go home around June 3, but it seems from books my Mom has been reading that usually preemies stay in the NICU till approximately the same date they would have been born, which for me is July 3. But I hope I'll go home closer to June 3 than to July 3. It's getting boring around here, all I do is sleep and eat, with strict nurses and doctors around. My parents got a car seat for me in their car. What are we waiting for me to test it?

May 26: They are starving me.

I thought it was so nice to be in this world, and that everybody would take care of me, and that I would grow and get better every day. Well today it seems not to be the case, at all. Under pretext that they are studying my stomach they continue to starve me, and I went back down to under 2 kilos, I'm now weighing only 1960 grams. They put back an IV into my head, and they say my hemoglobine count is a little low and they might have to give me another blood transfusion tomorrow if it continues down. For the first time of my life I cried, and I know everyone could hear it, my heartbeat even went to above 200 and the machine started to beep so loud. My parents were there and they felt very bad for me, but the doctor is so strict and he only allowed to feed me 5 ml. of milk every 3 hours, that's so little. Well he said that if my stomach is ok they will increase it tomorrow. What a life.


May 25 PM: No photos today, let me sleep.

I found out why everybody was so excited this morning. The issue is that they did not see me go to the bathroom, and that worried them, enough to order x-rays, take a blood sample for analysis, and put me on "NPO" (for explanation of what that means, check my newly updated Useful Info page). Now at 11 AM I did a very big one and they relaxed somewhat. I think they overreacted. Nevertheless they did not take me off NPO. So in retaliation I announce there will be no photos today. Tell the paparazzi to put their cameras back into their bags. That's it. I'm going to sleep all day.

No photos today, I'm on NPO.

May 25 AM: A phone call to my parents

I just called my parents to ask them to come and see me at the hospital as soon as possible. I have a stomach ache and the nurse just put back an IV into me, and said they would not feed me with the bottle today. I was almost starting to get used to the bottle routine. They want to wreck my weekend. Yuck.

May 24: I passed the 2 kilo mark!

Lots of activities today, I even had a physical therapy lesson, it's similar to aerobics except I don't have much fat to burn and so it was low-key. Apart from that, I still don't like to suck on that milk bottle, I don't get the point of doing so. In spite of that I passed the 2 kilo mark (that's 4 lbs. 7 oz.), that's a good milestone. Maybe it's because they continue to feed me through the nose tube?

May 23: I just can't do it.

It's too tough, I can't figure out why I should suck on that bottle. I don't understand either why they put that tube back into my nose. Why? Can someone tell me why?

You can click on any of the small images to see it larger. By the way, look at close to 100 photos of my first month by clicking here.

May 22 PM: I definitely have character.

Nobody can say, looking at the photos below, that I don't have any character. I can show surprise when they show me a milk bottle, I can show disgust when they try to make me drink it, and I can show how important I am when I look to the side. I can show my fighting spirit even in my bed, so they don't get the idea to come and put that cable into my nose again. I like it without any cables, I hope it stays that way. As usual, you can click on the small pictures to see them bigger.

May 22 AM: A Stamp to honor my birthday!

Yes it seems incredible, but true, I am now 1 month old. My corrected age is 33 weeks, which means that technically I should be born in 7 weeks, since babies are normally born after a 40-week pregnancy. Well I am now firmly here, and to celebrate my first monthly birthday, the U.S. Postal Service has formally approved a 41 cent stamp with me on it, look at the scans below. My parents are all excited and have already sent 40 letters today using my stamp. My stamp is already flying all over the world, to Europe, South America, Russia, and all over the USA. Cool!


This is the beginning of Page 2, after when I turned 1 month old, on May 22, 2007. For Page 1, birth to 1 month, click here.

© 2007 Francesca Maria.

Made on a Mac. Of course.
Apple Computer

My Mood: On June 19, 2007 I went home!!

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Russian Page

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My favorite clothing site
My favorite chess site
My favorite photo site
My favorite video site

Famous Preemies:

Albert Einstein
Isaac Newton
Napoleon Bonaparte
Winston Churchill
Victor Hugo
Anna Pavlova

About Victor Hugo:

Although there is no positive proof that Victor Hugo was born prematurely, it is likely judging from several descriptions of his birth and infancy. Hugo entered the world on February 26, 1802, landing in Besancon, France. His mother described him as “no longer than a knife.” It seemed unlikely that the tiny baby would survive; in fact, it is said that Victor's coffin was ordered from the carpenter at the same time as his cradle. He later told Alexandre Dumas that even at 15 months he could not hold his head erect. Like many preemies, Hugo was determined to live and make his mark on society. He was a tiny baby born into a broken home, but he was to become one of the greatest writers of all time as well as a major figure in French politics.

Albert Einstein said:

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.”