Thursday, March 10, 2011

Adeleine's NICU Story: Part 5

Up and down, up and down...hang on tight!

Part 5: Weeks 3-8

In the NICU hand washing is important to keep the germs away from the babies who are either sick to begin with, or, like Adeleine, without a developed immune system to fight them. So, avoidance of germs is key for these little ones. Parents, siblings and visitors are required to scrub up and remove rings and sanitize hands before entering the NICU. The less germs, the better around these kids, so the fewer the people they are exposed to, the better. However, sometimes germs get in, no matter how careful everyone is.

At three weeks, Adeleine's breathing was still amazing everyone. She had moved from the CPAP to nasal prongs and from oxygen to just room air. She was cruising along. One day when I entered the NICU, Adeleine's wonderful primary nurse Lorrie (did I mention before that she was wonderful? Well, she really was!) told me she had been acting strangely that morning. She was having an unusually high number of apnea and bradychardia (A's & B's), which could be an indication that she was getting sick. They were about to do bloodwork and would need my permission for a spinal tap to check for infection in her spinal fluid (meningitis). I agreed, of course, and cradled her head, held her pacifier and spoke to her softly during her bloodwork, which involved poking her foot over and over until enough blood had dripped into a tiny tube. This probably took only 5 minutes or so, but it seemed like forever until her (and my) crying stopped. I knew I couldn't be in the room when they did the spinal so I took that opportunity to pump (I was on a 2 hour schedule) and I basically hid in the pumping room until her procedure was over. I went back and spent some time with my little peanut as the antibiotics started their job. A family next to us gave me some comforting words that day. Marion had twins in the NICU, and little Myles was just getting over pneumonia and she was rocking him in a chair, the first time she'd held him in days. "These kids bounce back so fast with antibiotics. Myles was in rough shape just a few days ago and now look!" It is amazing what a few words from someone who has been there will do, and how inspirational it is to look at a tiny being that has been through so much, rally and snuggle with his mommy. That night, they put Adeleine back on the CPAP with a bit of oxygen to help her breathe. The infection was tiring her out and the pressurized air would make it less work for her to take a breath. Her colour was still greyish and her arms and legs were floppy. She was too tired to even flex her muscles to move. Poor baby was like this for three days, until she started to perk up a bit. By the end of the week, her colour was back, her energy was mostly back, but the CPAP and oxygen was still on. The virus or infection took its toll on her lungs, because the little girl who was just on nasal prongs and room air the week before, wouldn't get back to that for several weeks.

Adeleine at 3 lbs 10 oz

At 4 weeks it was time again for her brain scan. I feel like puking now just thinking about waiting for those results - ugh. Once again though, our amazing Adeleine had a perfect scan! No bleeds or trauma had occurred and her little brain was perfectly normal. "Whew!" is an understatement. Another milestone down!

In a big girl bed in the new room!

At 6 weeks our little munchkin joined the 2kg club (that ribbon is still posted on her bedroom wall too!), which is about 4 and a half pounds. She was over double her birth weight and was stable enough to be moved to the "feeders and growers" room. This was as close to the door as we could get, since this was the room that kids were discharged from - yaaaay!

It was around this time that she had her first eye exam. They use this crazy contraption to pull the lids apart - think a clockwork orange - so the little babies are all swaddled up and get comforted by their sucrose coated pacifier. Exam results were fine, no ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity) so she would be checked again in 2 weeks.

After about a week in the feeder and grower room, I noticed she suddenly "poofed out" a bit. Like one day she didn't have chubby cheeks and the next day she did. I remember telling her how cute and adorable she was that day! Also, when I was holding her that afternoon, she was panting like she was running a marathon, while she was completely still. I asked the nurse why she was breathing like this and she just shrugged and said her numbers on the monitor looked good. This seemed weird to me. The next day, after the doctors did rounds, I found out she was puffy because she was retaining water and she was breathing like that because she had water in her lungs. (Thanks for nothing there, nurse from yesterday. 99.9% of the nurses in the NICU are fabulous, like, beyond wonderful, saints even, but one or two...aaahhhh) Preemies sometimes can begin to leak water from their cells and have difficulty filtering out excess water. The treatment for this is diuretics and Adeleine was put on them immediately. After about a week or so the puffiness started to ease up a bit and after two weeks the diuretics were stopped. To this day she still has those chubby cheeks though! I love them, even if their original appearance was a side effect of something not so good.

Before her edema (water retention).

After.  Cute cheeks though, eh?

Each day I would go to the NICU and sit by her cot and find out how much she was eating and what her oxygen levels were at. Those were the things she constantly needed to work on, to gain weight and get off the oxygen. One day she'd be on a lower oxygen setting, the next day a higher one. If they tried to lower it and she couldn't handle it she'd tell them so by having lots of A's & B's or dropping her blood oxygen level. So, back up the oxygen would go. One step forward, two steps back, one step forward...up and down, up and down, up and down....

*Please note that this blog is not medical advice. It is simply our story.*

Next Post
Part 6: Weeks 9-15

Previous Posts
Part 4: Dealing
Part 3: Weeks 1-3
Part 2: The First 24 hours
Part 1: Labour & Delivery

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