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Welcome To Our World Baby Emma!!

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Emma comes home....

August 22nd 2008 4:53 pm
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August 5th, 2008

I honestly don't know what made me do it....

We lost my 11 year old son's 10 year old Havanese girl this morning and I suppose I just felt compelled to try and help this little one.

I'm a little hesitant to feel much for her... or rather, I WAS - a couple hours ago, but.... well..... here's the story.

A friend emailed me this evening and directed me to an ad on

It was a young couple pleading for SOMEONE to take their newborn baby Chihuahua girl - born last night around 10:30 pm.... one of a litter of (actually, now that I think of it, I don't remember how many she said... it was kind of a fleeting few hours!) - - - anyway, the couple (young kids, maybe in their early 20's) - didn't notice until about 5:30 this evening that this little baby girl was born with a facial deformity - - and was unable to suckle.

7:00 pm - - I couldn't tell from the photo they sent if it was a cleft pallet or cleft lip, or both.... or the severity of the defect..... but it didn't really matter....

The first thing they wanted to do, was to take the baby to the vet to "have her killed" (in the words of the young girl) - but they couldn't afford to do that, and they wanted, they said, to at least try to find someone who would be willing to give her a chance....

Well..... (if you know me even a tiny bit) you know that I simply couldn't just "click" and let that go.... regardless of how I may very likely be CRUSHED all over again in just a matter of hours... or days....

Time was ticking away and the baby wouldn't last much longer without eating... (evidently the kids didn't know to at least try a bottle... dropper... squeezing milk from mom and giving it on a fingertip... ANYTHING).

So.... 7:20 pm - knowing that this little girl had already been over 20 hours without a drop of nourishment since her birth - - I got these kids on the phone, hopped in my car and drove 80 mph the 30 miles (midway between them and us) to pick her up!

They brought her to me in a little white washcloth.... a little chilled, but not too bad (never thought I'd be thankful for a 105 degree day!!) - - - so I scooped her up, snuggled her down in the heated bed and blankets I'd brought - - and made a mad dash for home.

8:23 pm - - Home - and warm... I weighed her first off.... 3.4 ounces... good weight!

I wanted to get her a little warmer and for just a little longer before I tried to get her to take some formula.... then, the second I put the dropper to her lips, she was gung ho for her first taste!! - 8:44 pm

She ate pretty well actually... not much, but better than I expected.

I'm still pretty fearful that she'll aspirate but I am THRILLED that she is able to swallow and willing to take formula without my having to tube feed. (that just scares me to death!)

10:24 pm - - Belly full... new Mommy... and snuggly warm - she seems pretty content for the time being.... a couple of licks and few minutes of "rooting" and........... yep.... I'm in love.....

So, I took the opportunity to take a few pictures and introduce you all.... to baby Emma (meaning - "whole"... "complete" - which I know she may not be just now... but we pray that one day, she will be!)

I can't keep her.... not forever.... but if indeed we are able to help to give her a forever to be had, I pray that there will be a wonderful family out there willing to share it with her!!!

Please welcome... and say a few prayers for..... our beautiful little baby Chi girl, Emma...



August 22nd 2008 4:56 pm
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Wee hours of the morning.... 8/6/08

Well, the second feeding of her little life - at exactly 24 hours old - went pretty well, so I feel a little better.... at least she's getting a bit of nourishment.

She can't form her mouth to suckle, but she's slowly taking the drops of formula from the eye dropper and swallowing rather that "gurgling" - so I'm happy about that.

I've been frantically searching for Natalie's snuggle buddy (heat disc) - to no avail.... I have absolutely NO idea where I put that thing... so right now, I'm using a heated rice bag for warmth in Emma's bed.... I'm afraid to sleep though, because it doesn't stay warm for long.

Gonna' be a long night, but I'll rest easier tomorrow when I'm able to get out and get another snuggle buddy for her so I don't have to worry about her getting chilled.



August 22nd 2008 4:59 pm
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YAY!!! 3rd feeding went well again and the "after feeding" was even better!!! (I promise not to update EVERY time she eats, haha!)

But........ she did eat well.... just tiny bits every time... 'bout 1 - 1.5 cc each feeding.... and THEN - she did a good job "makin' a pee" with some stimulation... AND........ her very first POOP!!! (I'm so excited!!) haha...

I know, I know.... I'm a freak.... but seriously... it was just a relief to know that everything else seems to be functioning normally - so I feel great about that...


3:30 am.....

August 22nd 2008 5:02 pm
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Well, it's 'bout 3:30 am .... she ate... she peed.... she's warm... and now.... she sleeps....

I, on the other hand - am trying to figure out just exactly WHAT I WAS THINKING when I purchased a heating pad with a 60 MINUTE AUTO SHUT OFF SWITCH!!!!!!! Ugh............ I wish PetSmart was open 24/7


Already in love....

August 22nd 2008 5:08 pm
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I tossed that silly heating pad.... wasn't good for anything anyway... didn't heat hardly at all and certainly not worth stressing over it going off every 60 minutes.

So, I've got her tucked in with the heated rice bag and on the other side, a 2 liter "hot water bottle".... so that should give a good 2 hours of warmth if I do drift off a bit.

(I think I've taken as many pictures of this baby in the 8 hours since I've had her as I did my first born skin child!!! haha!)


Off to the dogtors....

August 22nd 2008 5:11 pm
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Okay.... Whatta' day already!

Now... as for little Miss Sunshine over here.... Baby Emma is 40 hours old now.... and she and I had a busy, yet uneventful night together...

She's taking the formula pretty well.... she's already decided that it's "not worth the effort" to try and suckle, so she just opens her tiny little mouth wide like a baby bird, and waits for me to give her tiny droplets of formula with the med dropper.

I don't want her to "give up" on being able to retain what little suction she's able to muster - so every feeding I start off giving her the bottle.... trying to help her form her tongue and back part of the palate to increase some strength so hopefully, she'll be able to nurse eventually.

When she gets frustrated with that, I switch to the dropper and she happily swallows down at least 1 cc every time. (I know, it's not much, but she's so tiny it seems to satisfy her).

First thing this morning we were off to the vet... arrived before they even opened and was able to get her right in for an examination.

Three hours and two surgical consults later - I'm told that........... SHE HAS A CHANCE!!!!

As slim as it may be.... she has a "fair chance" at growing into a happy healthy little girl!!

Number one obstacle .... she's an orphan ... she's COMPLETELY missed out on the "holy grail" of prevention - - her mama's milk....

While "puppy formula" does carry the benefit of SOME colostrum - we all know that there is NOTHING more sacred to the general health of a newborn, than her mother's milk...... and there's no way at this point, they say - to "go back" and regain those lost antibodies ... and no way to instill new ones.... so Emma is essentially in constant danger, just breathing the air around her!

That alone, keeps me a little ill at my stomach... not to mention overly OCD about her.

"Situation" number two..... it's obvious that Emma has a primary cleft to the lip and nostril.... unfortunately, she also has a secondary cleft to the hard palate. (in the pictures below, I tried to let you see the "split" in the front of the roof of her mouth....)

So.... this means of course, more dangers.... the main concern being, aspiration pneumonia. We have a little bit more of a deterrence against this though, since the cleft is of the hard palate rather than the soft palate at the back of her mouth.... in a good instance, we can bypass the cleft by dropping the formula directly down to the back of her tongue and throat. As long as she cooperates and swallows rather than spitting or bubbling, we can pretty much keep the majority of the liquids away from the frontal opening - and out of her sinus cavity, airway and lungs.

The downside to this, is that as mentioned above, she doesn't use those muscles and never learns to properly "work" her mouth and tongue. (so in addition to trying the nipple at feeding times, I also have a preemie "binky" / pacifier - that I'm using regularly to encourage suckling... it's a little big for her though, so it's tough going... )

The vet says that, while it's still awfully early on to tell, she seems otherwise healthy at this point.

They all let me know right up front that I "maybe shouldn't get too terribly attached to Emma".... ummm, hello..... too late!! But that the fight is certainly worth every effort as long as she shows some positive milestones over the next few days to weeks.

The surgeons want to repair the deformity at 4 - 6 weeks of age.... but they doubt very much that she'll be at a "suitable weight" by then to risk the procedure. So... we just wait... watch... pray… and help her to thrive.

I’ve read through all of the “cleft palate puppy instructions” on the Hennwood website and found much of it helpful….. Emma’s vet though, is very hesitant about using antibiotics as a preventative for pneumonia, so I’m not quite sure yet how I’m going to handle that, seeing as how the use of Cephalexin is so highly recommended by the site owner, experienced in cleft pups.

The vet read a long list of risks related to the prolonged use of Cephalexin – some of which involve a decrease in both red and white blood cells, kidney problems and a compromised immune system - - - which, considering she already has relatively NO immune system to speak of …. I’m not sure how to go with that…

What I didn’t see on the website, is at what age is recommended to begin the preventative antibiotic therapy if I did decide to proceed? Immediately?

As well, the dosage for such a tiny girl of 96 grams…. (I know the method to decipher it is there, but I think lack of sleep has me a little ditzy right now).

According to the vet… she can “pull Emma back” from pneumonia …. But she has no chance of bringing her back from some of the other “adverse reactions” of long term use of the antibiotic….

In the website owner’s opinion, most cleft palate puppies do not survive once pneumonia sets in…. and I for one, having battled pneumonia with my Natalie – am utterly terrified at the idea of watching another little one endure the same thing...

So, this is where we are at the moment…. The vet wants to see her back in two weeks. (evidently she has a bit of faith that Emma will make it to two weeks, which is a welcome ray of hope!)


Uh oh....

August 22nd 2008 5:13 pm
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Emma's vet just called.... says the surgeon wants to see her tomorrow... she didn't say why. I asked, but she just said that he wants to do the surgery as early as possible and wanted to get another good look at her.

Wow... they can't POSSIBLY be considering doing surgery on a newborn, could they??? Surely he's just "checking out his options", right?

Now I'm nervous.... extra prayers please!

Oh, by the way... she's 99 grams today! YAY!



August 22nd 2008 5:15 pm
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I've been trying all day to get a hold of the kids who have Emma's mom - thinking that maybe we could express some colostrum for her, even though she can't nurse.

No luck reaching them, so I thought the same about another female who may have just very recently had pups - - but I don't know of anyone...
The vet didn't sound very positive about offering up any suggestions regarding any way to "recoup" that "lost protection" - - nor introduce any type of vitamins / supplements other than giving me the go ahead for use of the BeneBac, Nutrical and the puppy formula.

So that's what we're sticking to for now....

I didn't even ask the vet about tube feeding.... that's not something I feel comfortable enough with to risk doing it wrong... it would only take one time and I could wind up causing more damage than good....

So, as long as she's swallowing on her own, I've got to let her keep doing as much for herself as she can.... (and spare myself the trauma of tubing her!!! - - - I know, that sounds so selfish!)

She's sleeping a lot more tonight than when I got her yesterday evening... of course, yesterday she had been starved for 21 hours....
So sleeping, I hope - is a good sign.

I got excited about the 3 grams gain.... I weighed her after stimulating her to potty (which she did) and before feeding (2 hours since the previous) - - so 3 grams in a day might not be much, but we'll take it!!



August 22nd 2008 5:19 pm
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Well.... it's the middle of the night again....

I'm starting to worry a little about whether Emma is getting enough to eat.... she did SO well last night, but like I said, she hadn't had anything at all for the first 21 hours of her life! But tonight, she's not wanting much of anything at all.

She's fighting the dropper... wants nothing to do with the bottle and just wants to sleep.

She's not crying... she's plenty warm (not over heated) and when I pinch the skin on the back of her neck, she doesn't appear to be dehydrated at this point... but I can't imagine she can go too awful long like this without getting that way!

Glad we're going back to the vet tomorrow.....

Last time I got her to take anything at all.... (less than a 1/2 cc) was at 11:30..... and I had to wake her up to do that.

I'll try again in another hour ......... let's hope for a better feed!!


Oh no!

August 22nd 2008 5:21 pm
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Oh my gosh... now I'm really worried..... I mean, when I first brought her home, she was 21 hours old and had never had a drop to eat / drink... weighed 96 grams.....

Yesterday Emma was up to 99 grams... and this morning... 94!!!!

She urinates more that she drinks it seems like... and the stools are getting dangerously close to being classified as diarrhea.

Ohhhhhhhhhhh hurry up day.... wish the time would pass quicker till our appointment time with the vet!!

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Emma: Cleft Palate SURVIVOR!!


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