Today was a red letter day in the life of Andrea. We began with almost two hours of kangaroo care, during which she maintained her body temperature with only my body heat and a blanket for help. She gained more weight, now tipping the scales at 1275 grams (2 pounds, 13 ounces) and her food was increased to 24 ml of fortified milk and MCT oil. Her repeat eye exam went well... she'll be rechecked in two weeks. Her CPAP was decreased to +6 pressure, and her oxygen level was at an all time low of 21.6%. (Remember, room air is 21% oxygen)
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."