I had a better title for today's post, but we need to celebrate the fact that Andrea is three weeks old today, as of 5:29 p.m. I'll use my clever idea tomorrow :-)
Andrea continues to follow a relatively uneventful course for an early preemie. However, two things happened today that drove home the point that we are not out of the woods yet, and will remain in limbo for many more weeks. When we got to NICU today, we noticed that the crib across from Andrea, most recently filled with a critically ill, but full term baby, was empty and all his personal belongings were gone. Our first thought was that this little guy lost his battle with his illness. Much to our relief, we learned that he had been moved to another area in NICU, but it served as a reminder that all these children are fragile, and things can change in a heartbeat. The other event was to see Andrea getting yet another blood transfusion. Her nurse reported that this morning, Andrea's color was poor, she was getting more oxygen than previously, and was not as active. A test of her blood revealed that her counts were low, and a transfusion was ordered. Fortunately, she responds well to the transfusions, and was much better when we saw her.
While I am on the subject of the transfusions, we learned today that Andrea will continue to need transfusions for most of the time she's in NICU. We didn't really have a good idea of how soon her bone marrow would grow to allow her body to manufacture its own blood. Our nurse told us that she'll need to be pretty close to full term (11 more weeks) before her marrow will be fully functional. So, if you are blood type O (positive or negative, doesn't matter) and would consider making a directed donation, please do so. Shoot me an email, or leave a comment, and I'll get you the phone number. We had one match so far, and the nurses are currently using that blood. We have a few weeks before they'll need a new pint, but the testing process takes time.
In other news, Andrea now weighs 630 grams, or a whopping 1 pound, 6.2 ounces. It's hard to see in the picture, but she is starting to fill out a little. Her fingers are less skeletal, and her chin is more rounded. Her cheeks have a little flesh on them, and her bones don't show through her skin. The primary goal right now is to help her grow as quickly as possible, so the new weight is a great sign. We were told that she could start wearing clothes at 1250 grams, but the nurse said they'll probably hold off longer than that. For the time being, they prefer to keep Andrea in the isolette, where they can maintain the environment close to body temperature. I didn't realize that maintaining body temperature burns calories, and the doctors DO NOT want Andrea to burn any more calories than she has to. By keeping her in a warm place, she has less work to do to stay warm.
We also learned that her small size is one reason she's still on the ventilator. Her respirator settings are low, and she's doing well, but the doctors and nurses would like her lungs to be bigger before they remove the tube. That is completely fine with us. We are in no hurry to have her disconnected. Still, many times Andrea breathes on her own. The respirator is more of an insurance policy.
As of this morning, Andrea is getting 10 ml (2 TEASPOONS) of milk per feeding. We thought they were going to hold her at 9.5, but she was able to tolerate the 10. This is the maximum for now, but it's still a good feeling to have her eating as much as she can. The milk is still fortified, is still the "hind" milk, and she still gets calcium and phosphorous through her feeding tube. All of which will help her grow as fast as possible.
Please continue to pray. We can't believe the milestone we're celebrating today. In some ways, it seems the time has flown - in others, each day has been a million years. Every day is a victory.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and don't lean on your own understanding. In all things acknowledge him, and he shall direct your way. [Proverbs 3:5, 6]”