NICU day 8

Last night was a little rough. Emmett had several bradys and vagels (heart rate drops brought on by gagging/choking). He recovered every time on his own and the team says it’s normal, but no parent likes to hear their baby’s alarms going off because their heart rate is dropping. I didn’t get much sleep at all, and I was still stewing about the nurse situation. In addition to last night’s cannula debacle, she just had no bedside manner. Not once did she even acknowledge the stress I’m under, even as I was curled up in the corner, sobbing. And not once did she talk to Emmett while handling him, and she handled him a little too rough, in my opinion (of course, that could just be the mama bear in me).

The good news is, one of my favorite nurses was on today. She is just so compassionate toward me, and talks sweetly to Emmett, which is exactly what a NICU nurse should do, in my opinion. One of the first things she asked me today was how I was holding up, and when I’d like to hold him. Since they like to time kangaroo care around when they do their “cares” every three hours (feeding, changing diaper, taking vitals, etc.), we decided I would hold him after his 2 p.m. cares. They also needed to swap out his isolette, which they do once a week so they can thoroughly clean them, so we decided they’d take care of that while I held him. The type A in me likes having a plan, and the “yellow” in me (a reference my work friends will get) likes being involved in said planning. So the morning got off to a good start. We had a plan.

The team holds parent rounds every Thursday at 10 a.m. so it was good to attend that today. This was our second time attending, though I honestly couldn’t tell you what they said at last week’s because I was still in a fog, less than 24 hours after giving birth. Today’s felt much more productive. I felt like I was more of an active participant in the discussion of his care and I’m starting to understand (and speak) the lingo. It was reassuring to hear the doctor say he wasn’t concerned about the bradys and he emphasized again how amazing Emmett is doing, especially for a baby born at 26 weeks. Part of me sometimes wonders whether they say that to all the parents, to reassure them — but if so, it’s working. I felt 100 times better after attending rounds. Our Emmett is certainly living up to his name, which means “strength.” Interestingly, I hadn’t even taken the meaning of his name into account when we picked it. It’s all a bit serendipitous.

One of the things the team discussed at rounds was starting to give E more breathing independence. Because he’s been doing so well, they decided to reduce his PEEP levels (positive end-expiratory pressure – essentially keeps his lungs partially inflated, even after he breathes out). The hope is to start weaning him from some of his assistance and move toward having him doing more of it on his own, so reducing PEEP was the first step. Unfortunately, it was kind of a bust. He had a few more apnea episodes than before so they turned it back to where it was before. Not a big deal – it was still pretty early to be doing that so we’ll give it some more time and try again.

As mentioned earlier, we planned to do kangaroo care at 2 p.m. I’m happy to say, it went much better than last night. I think a huge part of that was that my nurse really took the time to make sure E was situated on me in a comfortable way, that his wires were all tucked out of the way and his head was positioned in a way that allowed him to breathe easily. She also made sure I was comfortable, with pillows propping my arms up and warm blankets covering us both. E did fantastic and I held him for two and a half hours. Like the first time we did kangaroo care, E’s breathing and heartrate were steady, his O2 rose, and he just seemed so content. I fell asleep again too. One of the benefits of kangaroo care is that it increases prolactin — which helps with milk production but also makes you feel sleepy and euphoric. It was wonderful. I could have held him forever, but I had to leave to get T from daycare at 5 and needed to pump one more time before I went. I think I’m going to try to do kangaroo care during the day from now on since I like our day nurses better than our night nurses for the most part. Having someone take the time to get us situated really makes all the difference in the world.

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D is staying the night in the NICU tonight and I’m back home. Most of the time I really don’t mind staying at the hospital. The bed is comfortable enough, and I like being so close to him (and truthfully I don’t sleep that much better at home, anyway). But after last night, I think it’ll do me some good to get away for a bit and decompress. Right now I’m catching up on The Bachelorette, and I must say, it’s nice to do something mindless.

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