Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Kira rode along in the ambulance (which was used just to be on the safe side), and I met them there. After being admitted, she required a lot of suction, and the doctors decided to intubate her. The prognosis is very good. She most likely has a viral infection, probably RSV. That means that antibiotics won't help her. The course for her is help with breathing until she can beat this on her own. We have no doubt that she will, but good, and make it home by her due date after all. We just weren't expecting her to make it home before then for a second time.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Aerin is the nicest baby I know. She's very mellow and easygoing - most of the time. She's pretty much content sleeping between feedings and diaper changes.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Friday, November 25, 2005
This morning we took Aerin for her first check-up at the pediatrician's office. We met with Dr. Cantor, who filled in for Dr. Al-Mateen's. Aerin weighed in there at 4 lbs., 14 oz.; that's a considerable gain since she left the hospital, and a very good sign. As usual, the doctor was very impressed with all of the progress Aerin has made.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Aerin gained 2 ounces last night. I'm so glad that she did - I was worried because she didn't gain the last time we roomed in. We had a much better night that the first one. Aerin got her new apnea monitor (the one we'll be taking home) and it didn't ring off once. It's not attached to her with sticky leads. The leads are velcroed to a band, which is wrapped around her chest. It's much more comfortable for her and it obviously works better, too. I got about 2 hours of sleep.
Our travel system finally arrived today. We put it together and it's ready to go. We brought it to the hospital and they did a seat check. They put Aerin in the infant carrier/car seat for 30 minutes to make sure the position didn't make her desat. She did just fine, although she wasn't sure that she liked it. Seeing her in the seat reminded me how small she is - we pulled the straps as tight as they will go and they just fit her.
Our pediatrician, Dr. Al-Mateen, stopped by to say hello. I was nursing, so he didn't get a close look at Aerin, but he'll be seeing plenty of her soon enough.
Grandma Rita went back to New York City today. We loved having her here and she helped us so much with preparing the house for Aerin's arrival. Grandma Elizabeth is coming up on Thanksgiving Day to help us with the transition.
I feel nervous, but calm. This is the end of a long, long wait. I've been waiting my whole life to be a mother and I've waited 71 days for my baby to be home where she belongs.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Tomorrow will be the 100th, and hopefully the last, day in a row I've been to the hospital, but there's no comparison to what Kira and Aerin have been through.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
I have to admit to feeling a bit nervous. I had a long talk with Dr. Rose, who assured me that they would never discharge her if she wasn't ready. Dr. Rose pointed out that Aerin is mature. She can regulate her body temperature and eat - both of which are impossible to do if one's brain is immature. She hasn't had any bradys or apneas in over a month. In fact, she's no longer wearing a pulse ox probe. It makes diaper changes a lot easier.
Andrew and I went shopping with Grandma Rita today and got almost all the things that Aerin will need when she comes home - bassinet, diaper genie, scale, Pack n' Play, etc. I feel much better having all of those things ready to go. It seems so surreal that there's a bassinet next to my bed and a Pack n' Play in my dining room.
I'm rooming in again tomorrow night. They're going to give us the good monitor to start with, so I'm looking forward to a better night. It's hard to sleep when a brain-slicing alarm goes off every 10 minutes for no reason at all. It was both wonderful and scary to be on my own with Aerin. We really bonded during her 11:00 p.m. bottle, when it was just the 2 of us, without the crowd and noise of the PCN.
I'm going to try to get some sleep while I still can.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Aerin was a little tired from the experience as well, but she had a good day otherwise. Grandma Rita is in town again; she got to hold Aerin for the first time. It was a thrill to see that.
Yours truly had a big day as well. Aerin's dad gave her a bottle feeding and diaper change for the first time.
Friday, November 18, 2005
We're looking at Monday or Tuesday for possible discharge dates. Aerin is getting her Hepatitis B vaccination today, which is something they give to babies shortly before discharge. Two months ago, I would never have thought that my baby would be home by Thanksgiving. I am so very thankful this year!
Before we take her home, I'll be rooming in for a couple of days at the hospital. They give us a hospital room and I stay there with Aerin. That way, I do my first solo run with the doctors and nurses around the corner.
I also discovered that Aerin likes to be rocked. We already have a rocking chair, so that's one thing I can cross off my list.
Aerin continues to gain weight, even with all her hard work feeding. She's at 4 pounds, 6.8 ounces!
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Aerin had a so-so day. Dr. Rose changed her feeding schedule - she now gets 2 out of 3 feeds from a bottle or breast. I'm allowed to nurse her 3 times each day, starting tomorrow. We nursed twice today. The first time, 5:00 p.m., did not go well. Aerin was extremely fussy and only did about 10 minutes (she got 18 cc's through her tube). She was having gas and reflux at the same time, which would make anyone upset. I had asked Dr. Rose if we could try Mylicon for the gas and she had approved it. It arrived from the pharmacy just as Aerin was at her fussiest. Aerin's nurse, Gina, gave her the drops, unhooked her from the monitors, and let me walk around the PCN with her. I don't know if it was the Mylicon or the walking, but Aerin calmed down instantly. It was as if someone had thrown a switch.
The next breastfeeding session was much better. Beth, my lactation consultant (and a NICU nurse), was there and I guess Aerin wanted to put on a good show for her. She fussed a little at first, but then settled down and nursed for 25 minutes. I gave her a bottle afterwards and she didn't drink any of it. That is going to be the new policy - offer a bottle after breastfeeding. Since overfeeding can aggravate reflux, the doctors want to let Aerin decide if she's still hungry after breastfeeding.
We were startled to find out today that we might be able to take Aerin home in less than 2 weeks. She'll probably move to all bottle or breast feeds in the next 4 days and that's her only issue. She might be held back because she sometimes needs oxygen during bottle feeds. It's delivered through "blow-by" - we just hold the oxygen tube near her nose while she eats. It is, as always, up to her. Andrew and I will be taking infant CPR, which I highly recommend for the parents of all babies - preemie or term. We've passed almost everything else on the discharge checklist (diapering, bath, etc.). Aside from CPR, we just have to bring our car seat in for inspection. It is due to arrive on Tuesday, so we'll take care of that.
I'm still reeling from the thought of her coming home so soon. It's something I wouldn't let myself think about for so long and now it's so close.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Aerin continues to ace all of her tests. Her retick count is extremely high, which is excellent. It means that she'll pull herself out of the anemia that much faster. Her chest x-ray was completely normal. She passed her hearing test today! It's pretty rare for a preemie to pass on the first test and the technician was very impressed. I'm very relieved - I was in the NICU the last time the technician came to do hearing tests and no one she tested passed (Aerin couldn't be tested then because she was still in the isolette). Any degree of hearing loss can impair a child's ability to speak, so I'm thrilled that Aerin won't have those problems.
I spoke with Dr. Rose today. She hadn't seen Aerin in a couple of weeks and was amazed at how big and healthy she is now. She really has gotten the best possible outcome in every single area.
In other news, my diaper bag arrived today and our stroller shipped. Looking at my diaper bag (Fleurville Mothership - Pink Stripe) helps me to remember that she really will come home soon. Going back and forth to the hospital can get wearying, so it's nice to have concrete reminder that there's light at the end of the tunnel.
Don't forget to celebrate Prematurity Awareness Day 2005. The March of Dimes has many ways for people to help in the fight against prematurity - from wearing awareness wristbands to writing to Congress.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Don't forget, November 15th is Prematurity Awareness Day. You can find ways to show your support at the March of Dimes web site.
She did better at the breast today - 25 minutes. I just love nursing her. She's so peaceful when she's nursing and usually falls asleep. Her warm little body is snuggled up against me and everything is right with the world.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Aerin is 2 months old today!
She did better at the breast - she went strong for 20 minutes before she conked out. She's doing well with the bottle feeds, too. She gets 38 cc's now and it shows - she's up to 4 pounds, 2.2 ounces.
Andrew and I bought our travel system today (stroller/car seat/baby carrier combination). I'm so excited for it to arrive, but I'm more excited for the day when we wheel Aerin out of the hospital in it.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Today was pretty uneventful. Aerin ate for 10 minutes at the breast, then fell asleep. The nurses say that she's doing great, but I'm frustrated. This is the last step before she can come home and I want her to get there right now. I know I have to be patient, but easier said than done.
We do have some big news - Aerin is 4 pounds (4 pounds, 0.06 ounces, to be exact)!
I bought diapers at the Kroger today (Pampers Swaddlers - Newborn Size). I almost cried, I was so happy. I've waited so long to have a baby to buy diapers for and I've waited so long for her to come home.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Aerin has entered a phase where she won't go to sleep unless someone is holding her. I think it's adorable and am always happy to oblige her. She's a big girl now - 3 pounds, 14.66 ounces.
The good news keeps coming in floods. Today was a monumental day for our entire family. Aerin came off the cannula! No more supplemental oxygen. It was the first time I've ever seen her without her nasal tube (except for when she was on the vent) and she looks even more beautiful without it. We also got the results of 2 important tests back. Her head ultrasound is completely normal. That's her 3rd normal head ultrasound and Dr. Weisberg told me that we can basically rule out any chance of brain bleeds or damage. She had an eye test and her ROP resolved itself! I have to admit that I was worrying about that one. The only test she has left is her hearing test. I don't know when it will be, but hopefully within the next week or so.
Earlier this evening, Aerin nursed for the very first time. She latched on immediately and managed a few sucks. As her nurse, Nancy, said, this is exceptional for a first attempt. She dry-nursed while they gave her a full tube feed, so that she can connect the breast with filling her tummy. She did a couple of sucks during the feed and a couple right after and it wore her out. I loved it and cannot wait until she's nursing exclusively. Nancy said that she has a really good chance to go home nursing. The lactation consultant, Beth, is going to sit in with us tomorrow. I've worked with Beth to increase my production and she's great. She's also a nurse in the NICU. (Incidentally, today I helped her find nursing pamphlets in Spanish for a patient who speaks no English. I can't believe I remembered enough, but it just came back to me.)
It was a truly precious event for our little family. After making sure Aerin was positioned correctly and her feeding was hooked up, Nancy left Andrew, Aerin, and me alone in the Bonding Room. We've waited so long and it was so natural for us all to be together while I fed the baby. I can't wait till we can be together like that in our home.
Monday, November 07, 2005
November 15th is Prematurity Awareness Day.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
I am feeling overwhelmed with all the rapid changes Aerin is going through. It's a good kind of overwhelmed, because all of the changes are good ones. She's down to 0.1 liter of oxygen and tolerating it beautifully. She's still on room air, which is astounding. She's barely needing any supplemental oxygen at all. After watching all those desats, I'm still thrilled to look at her monitor and see her pulse ox in the 90s. She does get turned up for feeds, though, so she won't have to work to breathe and can concentrate all her energy on eating. She's doing wonderfully with her bottles and took all of her yesterday evening one and all but 1 cc of this mornings.
The big news is that she finally moved into a bassinet! They're monitoring her temperature to make sure she can keep herself warm and so far, so good. I can hardly believe that I can stare at her all I want and there isn't a plastic wall between us. We can hold her pretty much whenever we want now and I'm going to build some huge arm muscles because I'm never putting her down.
It's very different up there. Aerin is the only baby in an isolette and the other babies are all so big. There are hardwood floors, which make the unit look less clinical. There are more windows, too. The nurses are as nice and professional as the ones in the NICU. I have yet to meet a nurse who isn't nice and extremely competent at Henrico Doctors'.
Aerin had a great day. She had the excitement of her first elevator ride and is still on room air (21%) at 0.3 liters. She is nearing the 4 pound mark - she's 3 pounds, 11.7 ounces.
Friday, November 04, 2005
"What's that? a crib?" you ask. Yes, she should come out of the isolette any day now. She's about ready, but she's been weathering so many changes recently that something just has to wait. She's been weaning down to room air on the cannula (most of the time). She's gone up to 32 ccs per feeding, and she now gets two bottles per day (soon to be three). Her feedings have been sped up to 30 minutes; it wasn't too long ago that her feedings lasted 90 minutes.
Finally, she gained weight yet again, tipping the scale this evening at 3 lbs. 10.2 oz.
We went to the parents' meeting this evening. We were the "veterans" there - we had the most premature baby, and she's been in the NICU the longest. The nurse, Tammy, even described us as being "7.5 weeks in." It really helps to talk to people who are going throught the same thing we are. It also helps to have so many people supporting us, online and off. Thanks, everyone.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Her reflux just goes on and on. She desats for a hour after each feeding because of it. It's not a big deal medically, but it's upsetting for me. Since she brings her numbers up herself, the doctors aren't worried. I never anticipated her getting reflux and I really wish it would go away. My schedule is changing a lot, since I want to be the one to feed her and she gets her bottles 8-12 hours apart.
She's back up to 3 pounds, 6.3 ounces.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Aerin took 2 entire bottles today! Her first was at 11:00 a.m. and her second was at 11:00 p.m. The morning bottle was 29 cc's and the evening bottle was 30 cc's. It was amazing to watch such a teeny baby eating so much. She's really a natural. The speech therapist is going to teach me how to feed her tomorrow. You have to hold her in a very specific way, so that she is in the optimal position to swallow and breathe. You also have to burp in a specific way - not pat her on the back like you would with a term baby. I'm so happy to finally be able to feed her myself, instead of a pump or a nurse.
The goal is to replace all 8 tube feedings with bottle feedings.
She's at 2 bottle feedings a day and she'll move up to 3 in 2 days. Her tube feedings are only spaced out over an hour now, down from 90 minutes. It hasn't caused her reflux to increase, thank G-d. She has about the same amount of reflux (mild) with the bottle that she does with the tube. The bottle is hard work for her. She is exhausted when she's done and sleeps very deeply. That's great for her - she doesn't usually sleep that deeply. She lost an ounce, which is to be expected after all that hard work. She's 3 pounds, 5 ounces.
She still had her bath today and she did fine. I did most of it myself, with the nurse and Andrew looking on. Afterwards, I held her upright to help with her reflux. She looks extra adorable when she's all clean and dressed in fresh clothes and swaddled up in a soft blankie.