Today was a momentous day... for the first time, I was able to actually hold Andrea, cuddling her to my chest. Most parents do not have to wait almost five weeks for the simple pleasure of cradling their babies. It's hard to believe, but Andrea will be five weeks old tomorrow.
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.”