Thursday, April 30, 2009
Andrea now weighs 1300 grams (2 pounds, 13.9 ounces) and is getting 24 ml of her usual diet, every three hours. She tolerated being off CPAP for 40 minutes this morning while I was there, and another 30 minutes this evening when Ken visited. Her thyroid tests came back normal today - we are cautiously optimistic that she may be past that problem.
We said goodbye to some of the residents, fellows and doctors today, as the rotation changes with the first of the month tomorrow. We are so grateful to this wonderful group of people, for all they've done to help get Andrea this far. The doctor who admitted her in February won't be back on rotation again until July, by which time we will hopefully be home. It is hard to say goodbye, since we've gotten to know these people so well. I asked the residents will stop by when they can and see Andrea. Especially this month, she's had a lot of growing, progressing and developing, and they all played a part in that growth. Fortunately, her awesome nurses are still here, and will see her through until discharge. We would lost without them.
I cannot express how grateful we are to be celebrating Andrea's milestone today. Writing this blog is still therapeutic to me, and I can't wait to tell Andrea, as she grows, how many people followed her story and prayed for her as she struggled through her beginnings. Thank you for all you've done, and are continuing to do. Please continue to pray for her.
“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow”
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
While I was holding Andrea today, she started to cry. It's so hard to sooth a baby this small... there's not much back to pat, and I can't bounce her up and down. I can't stand and rock her, because of all the wires. Still, I rocked in the chair, and tried to shush her as best as I could. After a few seconds of crying, Andrea actually found he mouth with her thumb and started sucking it. Besides being absolutely wonderful because it's such a normal baby thing to do, it was too cute for words. Her hands and mouth are so tiny!
The biggest news is that Andrea spent 30 minutes right after kangaroo care in the isolette, breathing completely on her own. (See pictures below) She was wide awake, and I think she looks bewildered. She was concentrating so hard, I'm convinced she was thinking "In, out, in, out, in, out" as she took each breath. She was off the CPAP, and had no nasal cannula for oxygen support. (The tube you see in the picture is her feeding tube) She managed to maintain oxygen saturation levels between 85% and 92% all by herself. She has not ever been disconnected from support for more than a few minutes at a time. This was the biggest indication that her increase in size is helping her develop better breathing.
I got several pictures today, and I couldn't decide which I wanted to use, so I made the layout here.
Tomorrow marks Andrea's 9-week birthday (day 63 of life, as they say in the NICU). Thank you for the prayers that have brought her this far, and that will bring her home, as soon as possible. We have been doubly blessed - by our daughter's progress, and the friends that have gotten us here.
"Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves."
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Andrea gained another 10 grams, weighing 1180 grams (2 pounds, 9.6 ounces). At 1250 grams, she can start wearing an undershirt. Every little step like that brings us closer to her homecoming. She's still getting her 22 ml of fortified milk and MCT oil. She'll be measured tonight, so by tomorrow we'll know if she added any length to her body. This week, she'll have another eye exam on Wednesday, and a thyroid follow up on Friday.
Thank you for your continued prayers.
"I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday."
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Fortunately, nothing else has changed for Andrea. She is on full feeds of 22 ml of fortified milk and MCT oil. She weighs 1170 grams (2 pounds, 9.3 ounces) gaining back the 5 grams she lost and adding 5 more. She was awake and alert when we visited today. For the first 10 minutes of kangaroo care, she was staring wide-eyed at daddy. Thanks to her awesome nurse, we have our first portrait of Mom, Dad and Andrea. Here we are.
Andrea's nurse temporarity removed the CPAP for the picture. Isn't she cute?
Please continue to pray for us. We see today as only a minor setback. Andrea has made it clear to us and her nurses that she will progress when she is good and ready to move on. We learned today that she wasn't ready for nasal cannula. The nurses and doctors will allow her to grow a little more, and then try again.
"Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines."
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Andrea gained weight again, a whopping 65 grams since yesterday. She's now 1165 grams (2 pounds, 9.1 ounces). As a result, her feedings have been increased to 22 ml of fortified milk with MCT oil every three hours. A happy benefit of the nasal cannula is that the nurses can begin teaching Andrea to drink from a bottle. She needed to be off CPAP and at least 34 weeks old. The pressure from the CPAP could have forced milk into Andrea's lungs, necessitating her being fed only via a feeding tube. Additionally, before 34 weeks gestation, babies don't have the ability to breathe, suck and swallow at the same time. The feeding tube, currently in Andrea's mouth, will be moved to her nose, and the nurses will begin with one bottle a day. The rest of her feedings will continue to be through the tube. Gradually, the nurses will increase the number of bottles Andrea gets each day. Eventually, a lactation consultant will work with me to see if Andrea can learn to nurse. Some preemies can, others can't. We'll just have to try and see. But that's a way down the road.
Andrea's thyroid function was rechecked again today. As last week, the results are still baffling, but not bad enough to force the doctors to treat the condition. They decided to just recheck it again next week. The endocrinologist is following her as well, so Andrea is in good hands.
Thank you all for getting us to 8 weeks. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I still feel like I'm waiting to wake up, and that this has all been some kind of dream/nightmare. My days have an air of unreality to them, especially when Andrea's progress continues to be so overwhelmingly positive. Your support, friendship, love and prayers have kept us putting one foot in front of the other for 56 days. We will never be able to repay the kindnesses, nor will we ever forget them.
Today's quote is a tribute to all Andrea's nurses. Daily, they make decisions for her, arguing with the doctors when they disagree, making sure that Andrea gets what is truly best for her. (So do the doctors, of course, but the nurses are in the trenches!) As a result, sometimes, the nurses butt heads with the doctors, but they always act in Andrea's best interests. Thank you all NICU nurses.
“Faith is not trying to believe something regardless of the evidence; faith is daring something regardless of the consequences”
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Thank you for all the support - it helps me to write this blog, and to know that so many are reading it. I enjoy the comments and emails as well. We appreciate all the prayers and positive thoughts. They continue to help Andrea move forward.
“You can have anything you want - if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.”
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Andrea gained more, now weighing 1085 grams (2 pounds 6.2 ounces). That 2.5 pound mark is getting closer all the time. While I was holding her today, I noticed that she is filling out to the point that she has a "dimple" on her shoulder! She has enough flesh to actually dimple!!! To accommodate her larger size, she's now being given 20 ml of fortified milk plus MCT oil at each feeding. As Andrea grows, the dosages of supplements need to be adjusted for her larger size, so she's getting a larger dose of multivitamins and calcium and phosphorous. In the next day or two we'll know if there were adverse reactions to removing the caffeine from her care regime. As you coffee drinkers know, it takes several days for all caffeine to leave your system after you quit. Andrea's last dose was Thursday at noon. Pretty soon, the nurses will see apnea episodes if she's going to have them.
Please keep the prayers coming. We gain strength from the support of family and friends.
I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)”
Sunday, April 19, 2009
- Galatians 6:9
Saturday, April 18, 2009
In an effort to give Andrea's head a break from the pressure of the CPAP sponges, her nurses try to give her some time off every day. When I hold her, she has the CPAP prongs in her nose, but I support it, rather than relying on the sponges and straps. In this picture, the nurse has given her a total break; no sponges AND no CPAP. Andrea loves the freedom of nothing, but really can't breathe well enough to get by without it. After about a minute, her oxygen level drops too low, and she needs to be reconnected. Still, in this picture, we think she looks like she's lounging on the beach.
Andrea weighs 1055 grams (2 pounds, 5.2 ounces) today. That represents a 15 gram gain from yesterday, which is considered "healthy" by the nutritionist. We were told that a good daily weight gain is 15 - 20 grams per kilo of body weight, and she's only 1 kilo right now. Her meals have not changed - 19 ml of fortified milk with MCT oil. She has been tolerating the feedings amazingly well. Once she's off CPAP, even if she still has a nasal cannula, she can try to eat from a bottle. That's something to look forward to.
The nurses got the results of Andrea's thyroid follow up, and the endocrinologist has decided to not treat her condition right now. The recommendation was to repeat the test again on Friday, 4/24. We have faith that the doctors are looking at all the options and making the best decisions for Andrea. At least her thyroid is functioning - they just need to figure out why the other hormone is being generated. In the more good news department, the nurses had to take 4 ml of blood for these tests, and yet Andrea did not need a transfusion. Her last transfusion was April 4. It is a relief to see that her bone marrow is starting to do its job and is making more blood.
I spent about an hour holding Andrea today, and she was wide awake for a big chunk of the time. It was amazing to hold her and see her looking around. We're told that right now, she sees very little. We are mostly large, blurry shapes, so I don't delude myself that she's watching me. Still, when I was holding her, she would look up toward me, them move her eyes around, as if scoping out her environment. During our kangaroo time, Andrea was more mobile than usual, too. She kept trying to move her head, and at times, seemed to be trying to climb up my body. It's hard to hold her, because there are so many wires and tubes of which to be aware. Also, unlike holding a full term baby, I can't easily shift positions, or move her around. When she cries, there's not a lot of ways to comfort her. She is learning to use a pacifier and will occasionally try to suck her thumb. Fortunately, she is able to comfort herself fairly quickly, at least when we're cuddling.
Thank you for ongoing prayers for Andrea. She is our miracle baby!
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Friday, April 17, 2009
"God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain”
Thursday, April 16, 2009
“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Andrea continues to progress slowly and steadily. Please continue to remember her in your prayers.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)”
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Finally, after three long days, I was able to hold Andrea again. No one told me not to over the weekend, but she was having so much trouble maintaining good oxygen saturation, I was reluctant to stares her out. She was much better today, so we got to spend an hour together. Normally I sing, but Mom and Dad are back from their cruise, and they came to see her today. We visited together while Andrea and I kangarooed.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
We went to see Andrea for Easter, and she is still holding her own. She is having a difficult day today, with a lot of trouble maintaining appropriate oxygen saturation levels. While we were there, the nurse increased oxygen support more than once. Andrea is looking pale, and is not really herself. Her nurse commented that she is lethargic, and not her feisty self. Ken and I are predicting that she'll need a blood transfusion in the next day or so. Her blood is tested Monday mornings, so the nurse said they're trying to wait until then to make a decision. Then they won't have to stick her more than once. Of course, if her progress gets worse, they'll make a decision tonight.
There was very little we could bring Andrea for Easter. She can't wear clothes yet, and she lives on milk and vitamins. Even her hats need to be a certain type to protect her head and keep her warm. You can see her Easter present in the top right corner of the isolette - she has a little chick keeping her company. We also brought some bedding for her - a collection of blankets and some washcloths, which are used to position her head and body. The hospital issue ones are fine, but of very coarse fabric. Now she'll be a little spoiled.
I'm feeling a little drained today. Trying to pull off Easter for the boys on top of everything else was exhausting. Fortunately, the Easter Bunny arrived as expected, so no one was disappointed. Please continue to pray for Andrea. She is doing well, but days like today are scary, when we see how quickly she can start to struggle. She's still so small, especially when we consider that she is a 32 week baby now. She needs to continue to grow and get stronger, and the prayers do make a difference.
“When you have come to the edge Of all light that you know And are about to drop off into the darkness Of the unknown, Faith is knowing One of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or You will be taught to fly”
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
The only change for Andrea in the past 24 hours was a decrease in the amount of pressure used in the CPAP. She's gone from 8 to 7. She still needs between 25% and 35% oxygen support, slightly more when we're kangarooing or when she's on her back in the isolette. We hope to see that improve as she grows and her lungs get stronger.
Andrea lost a little weight between yesterday and today. We have to keep looking at weeks, rather than days, because the downs can be discouraging. We're so close to the 900 gram mark - I think we'll feel elated when Andrea has finally doubled her birth weight.
Andrea continues to get the same feedings; 16 ml of fortified milk, now with the MCT oil. She has grown enough that she's moved up to Pampers Preemie sized diapers (she used to wear "pre-preemie" diapers), and the #2 size blood pressure cuff. The #1 size was about as big as a standard size "Band-Aid".
I got to hold Andrea today, and while it is wonderful to have her in my arms, it is also a scary experience. She usually needs more oxygen when I'm holding her, and there is the constant worry that she's not getting everything she needs while out of the isolette. For some reason today, she seemed to have more trouble with her oxygen than usually, frequently setting off the "desat" alarm. I know the nurse is watching, and I shouldn't worry, but I can't help it. It serves as a reminder, too, that despite her good progress so far, she still has a long way to go, and so much can go wrong in the meantime.
We are more than six weeks into this experience, and are drained to the bones. We are so lucky, because it could have been so much worse, but it's still exhausting. Thank you for all the support, both material and emotional. We really have to live day by day, because to think of the long term is so overwhelming. We are probably about one third of the way through the process. While most preemies come home fairly close to their due dates, Andrea will likely be delayed because she started so far behind.
Please continue praying for Andrea, and for us. Every day puts us closer to a happy ending.
“Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.”
Thursday, April 9, 2009
So, you read right in the picture caption. As of 5:29 p.m., Andrea is celebrating six weeks of life, Thanks be to God. I spent some time with her today, and she is continuing on her slow but steady progress. She now weighs 865 grams, or 1 pound, 14.5 ounces. We will rejoice anew when she passes the two pound mark. She managed well with her altered feedings last night; the fortified milk with MCT oil. The doctors decided to increase the quantity of milk further, to 16 ml every three hours. I believe the plan is to continue to push the limits of Andrea's stomach in the quest to get more calories into her.
Also discussed today was the possibility of reducing the pressure level on the CPAP. Right now, Andrea is at 8, which is the maximum. As they evaluate her functioning, it is necessary to see how Andrea manages with less help, so the doctors can determine when she's ready for the next steps. I believe the CPAP will be reduced to 7, and the doctors will run blood gases to see if Andrea has any ill effects.
I was able to hold Andrea for over an hour today. She was quite content, tucked inside my shirt, and we rocked while I sang to her, which has become our routine. The nurse returns Andrea to the isolette when the monitors start to indicate that she's having trouble. Usually, her oxygen level starts to get too low (called desat). When Andrea is returned to the isolette, she is on her back for a few minutes while the nurse adjusts the CPAP and makes sure all the sensors are positioned properly. Normally, she HATES being on her back, and requires more oxygen and generally kicks up a fuss. Despite that, it's amazing to watch Andrea during these times. She hates the CPAP so much that you can see her visibly relax when the nurse removes it in order to reposition the sponges. Of course, she also turns purple fairly quickly without the support. The nurse watches her oxygen level carefully and gives her a safe break. The interesting thing is to watch Andrea when the nurse tries to reinsert the CPAP. Immediately she cries and pushes the nurse's hand away.
Please join us in celebration of today's milestone. We continue to thank God for our good fortune and Andrea's continued recovery. We ask that you continue to pray for her, that the progress continues to be smooth.
Let us thank God for his priceless gift!— 2 Corinthians 9.15
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. "
Corrie Ten Boom
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Andrea is doing well, and obviously feeling very smug with herself. I was able to hold her today, and had her out of the isolette for almost an hour. However, I almost gave up after five minutes, because Andrea was delighting in causing problems. Right after we got settled, she yanked the CPAP tube out of her nose and relocated it so that one cannula was in her nostril and the other was blowing air on her eye. Since I need both hands to support Andrea, the nurse had to come and reposition the thing. No sooner had the nurse walked away and cleaned her hands than Andrea yanked the tube out again. She repeated this at least five times before getting bored and deciding to behave. I told the nurse that if this had been my first experience with Kangaroo Care, I wouldn't be anxious to try it again! Once she settled down, Andrea and I had a pleasant hour of rocking and singing.
Andrea had a good night on the new breathing program. She maintained good oxygen saturation all night, with no supporting breaths, just the straight CPAP. During the day today, she was actually on lower oxygen levels, averaging 26%, which is down from 30% yesterday. I've mentioned before that Andrea hates to be positioned on her back, and it's interesting to note that she needs more oxygen when on her back. She likes to control the situation more than you'd expect from a tiny baby.
Andrea continues to be on "full feedings". She's getting 15 ml of milk, fortified with extra calories. Now that she's breathing more on her own, she's burning more calories. We're fortunate that she tolerates food so well. Her stomach is too small to hold more milk, but at least she's getting as much as she possibly can.
I saw the doctor today for yet another follow up appointment to my icky wound. I am happy to say that it is continuing to heal well. The visiting nurse no longer comes - Ken has been packing the wound since Saturday and it seems to be doing fine. Still, the doctor is estimating another 2 weeks before it's finally in the past.
We're happy so many people are following Andrea's story and praying for her. We are closing in on 6 weeks, or 32 weeks gestation. Despite her small size, Andrea is doing remarkably well. Thank you for the prayers that have made that possible. Please keep them coming for her and us.
"Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Monday, April 6, 2009
The biggest change for Andrea today was the removal of the support breaths from the nasal IMV. She is now on CPAP (for real, as opposed to when I was misusing the term) which just provides pressurized air. All the breathing is Andrea herself. After an hour of no supporting breaths, the nurse ran a blood gas, and it showed that Andrea is getting enough oxygen without the help. So for now, she'll remain on CPAP and see how things go. Her levelof oxygen support is 30% most of the time. When she gets to 21%, they can consider removing CPAP, since 21% oxygen is the same as breathing room air. When Andrea is assessed, she is given the chance to breath unassisted. Her nurse uses that time to see how she is progressing toward removal of the support. Right now, when she breaths unassisted, we can see how much she has to struggle.
Now that Andrea is breathing on her own, more or less, she is likely to lose a bit more weight, since she's burning more calories just breathing. I wish I breathed more calories by breathing! She is still getting 15 ml of milk with extra calories. Also interesting is that she still gets caffeine, which helps prevent apnea episodes. Despite the fact that she's gained more than 300 grams since birth, she's still on the same level of caffeine, and has not had any apnea episodes. That speaks well to the state of her lungs.
Thank you for continued support and prayers. We are closing in on 6 weeks of life on the outside, and Andrea continues to move forward at her own pace. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.
“There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever”
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Andrea had another blood transfusion today. While it is always hard to see her getting blood, this is the first time in over a week she's needed it. According to the nurse, Andrea's blood counts weren't bad, but they weren't great, so they decided to build her up a bit. She gets no milk during the 4 hour transfusion, or for 2 hours before and 2 hours after so she also has an IV in again for nutrition. As a result, she had ports in both hands, which is sad to see.
When she does eat today, it'll be a repeat of yesterday - 15 ml of milk along with the fortifier and the powdered formula. It's obviously working - today Andrea weighed 805 grams, or 1 pound, 12.4 ounces. She's gaining weight, moving forward at her own pace.
Even with the transfusion, I was able to hold Andrea for almost an hour today. She is getting used to being out of the isolette and is quite wonderful to hold. She's so small, it's like holding air, but her little body feels so sweet. It's hard to resist the urge to kiss her, but I worry about introducing germs that she'd have to fight, so I do resist. Ken is still sick, so while he visited with Andrea, he decided against any contact, to avoid making her ill, too.
I promise to write more tomorrow, and I'll post more pictures. In the meantime, thank you for continued prayers. They help more than we can express, and we can see the benefit every day when we visit Andrea.
"I am thankful to God from whom all blessings flow, and to my family and friends who enrich my life. "
Author Unknown, from May This Encourage You, Always
Friday, April 3, 2009
Today was another upbeat, positive day in Andrea's life. Her food level has been increased to 15 ml (or a full tablespoon!) at each feeding. Since she started getting milk, the nurses have been fortifying her food with something called "human milk fortifier", which makes the milk more caloric. Today, they started adding some powdered baby formula to the milk, in addition to the fortifier, all with the goal of making her milk more fattening. I'm so jealous - I wish my only purpose in life was to gain as much weight as possible in the shortest possible time! Andrea adjusted well to the decreased support from her Nasal IMV, and she gained another 10 grams. She's now 780 grams, or 1 pound, 11.5 ounces.
Once the nurse returned Andrea to her isolette, we were treated to the most animated baby we've seen yet. Andrea was on her back, and quite alert. The nurse left the top of the isolette open, so we were able to interact with her in a less restrictive way. Andrea was awake and very active - waving her arms and legs and making faces. We wonder what she's thinking when she looks around... how strange this environment is for her, compared to where she should be right now.
We saw Andrea's doctor again today, and he repeated his comments of the past few days. She is doing well, and they're going to continue to support her lungs while allowing her to grow as fast as possible. I know everyone thinks their baby is special (and they all are, of course) but right now, Andrea seems to be the darling of NICU. So many people have been, and will continue to be, involved in her care, and they all comment on how cute she is, and what a feisty baby she is. Some of the staff who saw her at delivery cannot believe how far she's come in 5 weeks. She's still really small for a 31 week baby, but she'll get to the finish line in her own time.
Just a note to those of you following the blog who live locally. We are happy to have visitors come to NICU to see Andrea. If you want to visit, just email us and we'll set up a date (children are not allowed in NICU). Unfortunately, Andrea is going to be there for several more weeks. We're making the best of the situation.
Thank you to all who continue to support us through your words and actions. The gifts of meals and play dates have made life infinitely easier for us. We strive to remain upbeat and positive, as negativity will help no one. You enable us to stay strong, since we have so many people behind us. Please keep praying for our baby.
"A friend is one who strengthens you with prayers, blesses you with love and encourages you with hope."
Thursday, April 2, 2009
As of 5:29 this evening, Andrea is celebrating 5 weeks of life. We mark this milestone with joy and a sense of thankfulness, relieved that Andrea continues to have relatively uneventful progress in NICU.
Andrea did very well for the hour of Kangaroo Care today. Her vital signs remained relatively steady and her oxygen only needed to be slightly increased. The most surprising thing I learned today was that Andrea can finally cry! When the nurse moved her out of the isolette and into my arms, Andrea was not happy to be disturbed from her little nest. As she was placed in my arms, she started crying a true baby cry, not the little squeaks I heard yesterday. Considering she is so tiny, she got a decent volume out of her lungs. It was hard not to laugh at the sound. I'm sure the day will come that I wish for Andrea to stop crying, but today, it was music to my ears. TO my immense delight, some rocking and singing soothed her, and Andrea settled into sleep on my chest, but not before yanking the CPAP tube out of her nose and dislodging the prongs completely.
I learned today that I have been incorrectly referring to Andrea's breathing support as CPAP. The neonatologist informed me that it's actually called Nasal IMV. A nurse later explained that it's the same thing, but Nasal IMV is the newer, and more correct, term. Since I strive for perfection in all things, I will stop calling Andrea's breathing support CPAP and start using Nasal IMV. So, speaking of her Nasal IMV, the doctors decided today to reduce the amount of support that Andrea receives. She still gets her air under pressure, but now the system is delivering fewer breaths for her, allowing her to breath more on her own. The nurses will test her blood to make sure she's still getting enough oxygen without the higher level of support.
Since one of the goals of NICU remains trying to get Andrea to grow, her milk level is being increased again. Her feedings today are 14 ml every three hours, plus the vitamins and extra calorie supplements. One more ml, and she'll be getting a whole tablespoon every feeding. Her weight today was 770 grams, or 1 pound, 11.16 ounces. She is slowly closing in on the two pound mark. I think we'll rejoice when she hits 900 grams, which will be double her birth weight.
Thank you for the prayers that have brought Andrea to her 5 week birthday. We ask for continued prayers that she remains strong and progresses well.
"Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver." Barbara De Angelis
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I was able to participate in what is called Kangaroo Care. Andrea was placed against my upper chest, skin to skin and covered with a blanket. Unfortunately, ALL the batteries I brought with my camera today were dead, so there is no picture, but we plan to continue this every day, so tomorrow will be better. I bought new batteries, LOL! We have noticed Andrea growing, both in weight and length, but holding her today, it seemed like she's as small as she ever was! Both my hands almost completely covered her body. She still has her CPAP tube in, so one hand had to hold her head up, or the weight of the tube would have pulled her over. My other hand was over her bottom half, leaving her arms free. She kept tickling me at the base of my neck, which was one of the nicest things I've felt in a long time. As new as these sensations were for me today, it was also a whole new experience for Andrea. I'm certainly more padded than the mattress in her isolette!
I was able to hold Andrea for about half an hour before she started to get too cold. Part of the problem with very young preemies is that they can't regulate their body temperatures. Even though she was against my skin, inside my shirt and under a blanket, I couldn't keep her at 98.6 degrees. When she started cooling off too much, her nurse had to return her to the isolette. I spent my time with Andrea singing again, mostly repeats of the songs from yesterday, and I recited some of Kenny's favorite childhood stories as well. There were some books he loved so much, I committed them to memory. Today, it was "The Napping House". Andrea still doesn't cry, but while I was holding her, she made the first sounds I've heard from her. I can only compare them to the sounds Kenny's hamster makes... they sounded more like squeaks than anything else. I was impressed to hear anything. She lacks a big set of lungs, and getting enough oxygen is still a challenge for her.
Since today is the first of the month, a new rotation of doctors came into NICU. I spoke briefly with the doctor in charge, and he was pleased with the progress Andrea has shown so far. The hardest thing about talking to the doctors is that they constantly remind us that things can change in an instant in NICU. Today's doctor made a point of saying that preemies can be unpredictable. We know that we still have weeks and weeks ahead of us before Andrea can come home. Still, we prefer to "accentuate the positive" (a flashback to JPE in college) and not think about the negative possibilities until we have to.
Andrea had her first eye exam early today, and the results showed only minor problems. She will be rechecked in two weeks. Andrea's nurse said that this is fairly typical, and not necessarily an indication of a big problem in the future. We were told to worry when the rechecks are scheduled for one week ahead. Andrea's food has been increased again, to 13.5 ml every three hours. Breathing on her own uses more calories than breathing on the respirator, so they're trying to get more calories into her. She lost a little weight from yesterday, again not enough to be concerned about, but they're trying to fatten her up.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We are closing in on another milestone, 5 weeks of life tomorrow. We believe it is the prayers of everyone that have helped Andrea to continue to thrive. Please keep them up!
"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”