NICU day 61 and 2 months old

Today Emmett is two months old. And we’ve been here 61 days now. With any luck we’re about 2/3 of the way through this NICU journey.

I went into the office today so D was here most of the day. He seems to be doing better with his breathing and reflux, though they were having to chase his oxygen levels all over the place today. He’d desat and they’d turn his O2 up — and then he’d high-sat and they’d turn it down. They’re still having to suction him a fair amount, but he sounds better than he did the other day.

This evening I hurried back to the hospital after dinner so I could get here for his 8:30 cares and give breastfeeding another shot. I’m happy to say we had, by far, the most successful session to date. More about that below.

So here’s what’s going on at two months…

Adjusted age: 35 weeks

Stats: 5 lbs 5 oz and 17.5 inches. Like last month, I created the image below before they did his evening weigh-in. I figured like last month he’d maybe be an ounce or so off but wasn’t expecting him to put on a whopping 110 grams tonight!

Milestones: Getting moved to an open crib, stepping down to low-flow nasal cannula at 1 liter, beginning to breastfeed.

Sleeping: So far so good, but as I mentioned last month, at this gestation most preemies sleep pretty well. Within the next few weeks he should start showing his true colors.

Eating: 45 ML of breastmilk every three hours via NG tube, plus 26kcal of fortification added to my milk.  We got to try breastfeeding for the first time last week, and as of tonight I think it’s finally starting to click with him. I think it was a combination of him feeling better, simply getting bigger and more mature, and I think a lot of it was that I was more comfortable. For the past several days the lactation nurses had been telling me to hold him a particular way (“cross body” hold, with my hand holding his head), and I had been following their direction, even though it felt unnatural to hold him this way (I had always preferred to nurse Theo in a “cradle” hold, with his head in the crook of my arm). But since I had never fed a preemie before, I followed their direction. Tonight I did what felt natural to me, and was far more successful. Moral of the story? Listen to your instincts, mamas.

He still isn’t able to get much, but he was rooting around, opening his mouth and truly giving it his best effort. And several times he would latch and actually get in several good sucks before losing his “grip.” He probably would have done even better, but he got a vicious bout of the hiccups about halfway through and I could tell that just wiped all his energy. It was just such a relief to see him actually doing what he should, though, even if he needs more practice. I think the most discouraging part about the past few days is that he just didn’t seem to know what he was supposed to do. We’ll probably try weighted feeds tomorrow (where they weigh him immediately before and after to see how much he got), now that he seems to be actually getting a little. As he gets more and more by breast, they’ll start subtracting that amount from his tube feedings.

Personality: Like last month’s update, it’s still pretty early to see much personality shine through, but he’s certainly gotten more vocal about when he’s unhappy with something lately! Whether it’s reflux or those horrible eye exams he isn’t shy about speaking his mind.

Likes: Being held. His oxygen and heart rate are always at their best when one of us is holding him.

Dislikes: Reflux and eye exams. And boogers.

Mama: is down to pre-pregnancy weight but feeling pretty squishy still. I went to barre for the first time postpartum last week and am hoping to start making that a regular habit again.

I’m back at work now so that I can save the rest of my leave for when E comes home. It’s actually been kind of nice to be back. I only go into the office twice a week (usually Mondays and Fridays) and I work from the hospital Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’m thankful to have such an understanding employer, and this schedule allows me to have two “consecutive” days in the office (Friday and Monday), but still lets me get 2-3 days of hospital time in between so I don’t feel like I’m missing E too much. I also have most of my standing in-person meetings on Mondays and Fridays, and all the others I can easily call into. I’ve discovered the kids’ play room on our floor is quiet, has a desk, and is rarely used (the only kids allowed in the NICU anyway are siblings and they’re probably spending most of their time in their brother/sister’s room), so it’s perfect for taking calls.

I’m still obsessive about pumping (even though I despise it), but I’ve been able to stretch it out to every three hours during the day and and 4-6 hours at night, while still increasing supply. Currently getting about 33-35 oz per day, which is way more than he’s eating right now and we’re running out of freezer space in both the kitchen and the garage freezer!

IMG_1976

 

Birth, one month, two months.

Birth, one month, two months.

NICU day 49

I didn’t get to see much of Emmett today since I went into the office and didn’t get back to the hospital until around 9 p.m., after tucking T into bed. But D was with him most of the day and said he did really well. This evening I overheard one of the doctors telling a nurse that E was “a great steroid story.” He really is showing a great improvement after being on the prednisolone. I’m still waiting to see if he rebounds at all, but he’s really doing great. The bad news is he lost 12 grams today, but we haven’t had a loss in a while so I’m okay with that. He’s still 4 lbs!

This evening I picked him up on my own for the first time, which was so nice. He was fussing and I just walked over and scooped him up and rocked him for a few minutes, then put him back. It was a very ordinary baby thing to do, and it was wonderful. Getting out of the isolette was a game changer. Like I said yesterday, he really feels more like ours now.

That’s about all there is to say about today. Blissfully boring.

IMG_1820

NICU day 48

So, this happened today:

IMG_1811

Emmett got to ditch the isolette and is now in an open bassinet. At first I thought it seemed really soon. And then I realized he will be seven weeks old tomorrow. Seven weeks in the NICU, wow. If someone had told me months ago their baby had spent seven weeks in the NICU, I would have thought that sounded like the most awful thing in the world, but it’s flown by. Don’t get me wrong – this is by far the hardest thing we’ve ever had to go through, and we’re only about halfway there. But we’re also doing okay. As I’ve said before, as long as he’s okay, I’m okay. And huge milestones like this really do wonders for keeping a positive outlook.

Speaking of positives, E gained 48 grams today and is now 4 lbs 1 oz. He’s down to 1 liter of flow on his oxygen and the nurse told me tonight that she thinks he could be off oxygen altogether within a few days. I’ll believe that when I see it, considering they’ve prepared us for the possibility that he could come home on oxygen due to the CLD. He also still has a few more days on the prednisolone and we’ve been told that babies can sometimes rebound a bit once they’re off it, so I’m trying not to get my hopes up until I see how he handles that. But the fact that we’re even talking about it blows my mind.

Now that he’s in the bassinet he’s wearing clothes, which is pretty exciting. Last night I washed a bunch of preemie clothes we’ve gotten as gifts and he’s gotten to wear two of his outfits today (he peed on one and needed a wardrobe change!). We also have free access to him and can pick him up if he cries now. He still has a lot of wires and tubes to navigate so I’m not very comfortable with that yet, but I’m sure that will come with time. It’s funny, he suddenly feels much more like he belongs to us instead of the hospital.

IMG_1792

IMG_1791

IMG_1812

Save

NICU day 47

Today was a good day. D spent the night at the hospital last night and said Emmett had one of the best nights to date. This morning we took Theo to a 4th of July parade, and then I went back to the hospital so I could hold E this afternoon. When I got there, not only was E swaddled in his isolette, but he was wearing clothes! His temperature on his isolette was turned down to 26C, and the nurse gave me the great news that he would be moving to a crib tomorrow! They will also be turning his oxygen down to 1 liter, which is officially low-flow. Lots of great progress.

I didn’t get a lot of time with E today. Just the three hours I held him, and then I left the hospital to meet D and T at our friends’ house for more Fourth festivities. As hard as it was to have so little time with E today, I know he doesn’t consciously miss me while I’m gone, where T definitely does, so it was important to spend this holiday with him. It was good to see friends and we lit off a few fireworks after dark and kept T up WAY past his bedtime. So worth it to see the sheer elation on his face over the fireworks. D went back to the hospital for the night again and I came home with T to tuck him into bed. And then I started a load of laundry, including preemie clothes (!!) since we can start dressing him once he’s in the crib. The hospital will provide us with clothes if we want, but I figure we might as well use some of the preemie clothes we got as gifts since he probably won’t fit in them for long. He gained another 36 grams tonight, bringing him to 3 lbs 15 oz. There’s a very good chance we’ll crack 4 lbs tomorrow!

Baby clothes!

Baby clothes!

 

Cute kids

Cute kids

 

Sparkler fun.

Sparkler fun.

NICU day 45

We had another good day. Relatively uneventful in itself, though we are on the cusp of some pretty big milestones and I had some good conversations with the nurse about our plan of attack.

As far as today goes, the biggest news of the day is that they turned his oxygen flow down to 2 liters. So far he’s handling the change very well and doesn’t seem to even notice the difference. His weight was up another 11 grams this evening, bringing him to 3 lbs 13 oz. In just two weeks he has put on a full pound, which is fantastic.

As for the big stuff on the horizon … we learned today that in about another week he could both be in a crib, and be breastfeeding. We knew these were possibly coming soon, but today we got some more specifics on how the transition for each works.

For the crib, the first criterion is size. It usually happens around 1800-2000 grams, but 1600 grams is the minimum weight. He’s currently 1728 grams. The second and more important factor is temperature. Currently his isolette is set at 27º Celsius (80.6º Fahrenheit) and it needs to be able to maintain his body temperature for 24 hours at 23-25º C (73.4-77º F). They’ve already started dropping the temperature on his isolette a little each day, so as long as he keeps handling the change without a drop in body temperature, they think he’s on track to be in a crib in about a week. This is particularly exciting because then we can put clothes on him and can pick him up whenever we want, instead of having to schedule one long hold each day.

For breastfeeding, sometime around week 33 or 34 (he’ll be 33 weeks on Monday), they’ll start scoring him on a scale of 1-4 every time they come in for cares. 1 means he’s awake and showing strong hunger cues like sucking on his hands or rooting. 2 means he wakes up when he’s handled and shows some hunger cues. 3 means he’s briefly alert with cares but shows no hunger cues, and 4 means he sleeps through cares with no hunger cues. If he goes 24 hours with all 1s and 2s then they start the “72 hour breastfeed” which is like breastfeeding bootcamp. During this time they want me around as much as possible so I can nurse him whenever he’s hungry. After those 72 hours they are fine mixing breast and bottle, but those first 72 hours are critical to breastfeeding success. Since it will take a while before he’s eating efficiently they will weigh him before and after each feed, subtract the amount he’s taken in via nursing and make up the difference with the tube. Once he’s getting 80% of his feeds via breast or bottle, they will remove his feeding tube. It can be a long process and we’ve been told this could very well be one of the things that keeps us here until close to his original due date as he learns to work for his food.

So that’s the plan. I love me a good plan.

Burrito baby

Burrito baby