Thursday, April 23, 2009

8 Weeks of Life!

Today, at 5:29 p.m., Andrea is celebrating 8 weeks of life. That puts her at the gestational age of 34 weeks, if we had been able to hold on that long. In celebration of her achievement, Andrea had a few exciting things either happen already, or in the very near future. The big news is that last night, the doctor ordered the removal of the CPAP tube. Andrea still can't breathe unassisted, but now all she has in place is a nasal cannula, the same thing anyone might have during a hospital stay. You'll see in the picture that the new tube is much smaller than the CPAP, and it's taped to her face, rather than relying on pressure to hold the tubing to her skull. Now, her head can begin to revert to its normal shape. Andrea is obviously more comfortable, and requires less positioning in the isolette, since her head is not being weighed down by all the tubing.

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”
Sherwood Eddy

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