Tess Ingela Oplinger surprised us by being born on March 15, 2012 at 10:21pm (MST)! She was in such a hurry that the labor lasted less than an hour – we were standing in the Milwaukee airport when she was born.
Weighing in at 2 pounds 3 ounces, she is a healthy little nugget for 26 weeks and 5 days! By the end of her first day (today), she was off the intubation machine and breathing normally with only minor assistance from a canula (read, nose air-thingy.) They also removed her arterial line. Her skin is in good shape, and her eyes open every once in a while. Her color is excellent, and she actually looks like a tiny baby and not the alien we were expecting! The awesome NICU nurses nicknamed her “The Rockstar” because she has been doing so well. She even has beautifully long fingers, and long legs – so Micaela, you may get a basketball player yet! Her birth dad is a pianist, and is convinced that she’s ready to tickle the ivories as soon as she gets out.
The hospital here is incredible – it’s one of the best NICUs in the country. We get to talk to the whole medical team every morning, and they staff 150 nurses to care for 36 newborns. They are incredibly patient, and answer questions around the clock. Everyone has also been really sensitive about the adoption, and are very thoughtful when speaking with us and the birthparents. We met and love the birth parents, who did an amazing job taking care of her. It turns out we were reading the same weekly prenatal updates, and they did all of the development stuff possible to keep her healthy and happy. (Ingela actually means, “beautiful daughter of the hero”, and we’re dedicating that to both of them.) They’re doing pretty well under the circumstances, and have gone out of their way to include us in decision-making and information sessions. We even got to meet the birthmom’s mom, who was just as cool as her daughter! They are all supportive of this adoption, and the paperwork making Tess ours will go through early next week. In the meantime, Tess is in the NICU for an estimated 13 weeks, so we’ll be spending quality time in Utah.
We’re moving into the Ronald McDonald House tomorrow, and may be there for the duration of our Utah stay. We’d love to have visitors over the next few months, but want to warn you that if you have even a sniffle (!) you can only see us and not enter the NICU. This is crucial to all of the babies’ safety, so it’s enforced like mad. As our time here will be long, and our ability to help at the hospital is limited, we’re both going to be working part-time throughout our parenting leave. This may seem callous, but we want to have time to make her comfortable when we get home, too, and it gives us something concrete and manageable to focus on in the meantime. Our amazing managers are helping make this possible so we can be the best parents under these challenging circumstances.
We flew all night to get here, and the hospital whirlwind was quite draining, so please forgive us if we haven’t responded to your well wishes. Your thoughts and kindness mean so much to us that we honestly keep tearing up. Thank you so much for your support and for being our friends and family. We’ll keep you posted on her ups and downs, but will try to keep from inundating you with information! They’ve warned us that a baby this small can be in great shape one hour and have a setback a minute later, and that this risk exists throughout the NICU stay – so we may flip between upbeat and panicked at a moment’s notice. Please don’t read too much into these moods, as they will change with the weather. Do feel free to reach out to us for work or a chat, and know we will get back to you as soon as we can.
All our best to everyone from the exhausted Oplingers,
Dave, Maggey and Tess