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Monday, January 30, 2006

3 Pounds! (And one ounce)

A post before dinner? Nope, it’s just me putting up new pictures! While I’m here, I should post a quick update.
Vitals: 1390g, up 55g from yesterday! They’ve increased his food to breast milk plus 4 packets of HMF, which adds an extra calorie per ounce, per packet. He’s so wiggly, it’s almost like he’s trying to crawl out of the isolette when we open the door. Temperature is holding well. The staff is still holding him to 0.5 lpm of room air, because he’s kinda forgetful about things like, oh… breathing.
Last night we decorated for Valentine’s day with hearts and gel stickers. Alicia's here today to start painting his bedroom mural. He's one lucky boy!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

No News and Good News

Just a quick post to let everyone know that Jeffrey’s doing fine. There really hasn’t been anything remarkable over the past day or so. Danielle and I are relaxing here in the NICU-annex while he sleeps. I’m finishing homework and surfing the net while she works on a cross stitch piece for him. It’s just about time for his 9 PM changing and feeding, so I’ll have to keep this quick.
It’s really nice to have ‘net access now. I can post updates and keep up with school work while being by his side. We can even set up the webcam – maybe tomorrow. There are more chairs to sit on, and it’s pretty quiet. We’ve been able to adhere to the “2 visitors to a bedside” while still being able to hang right outside the window.
Last night we had a new milestone… sort of. As Dani and I drove home, we thought about it and realized that yesterday was the first day we were really able to “play” with him. He wiggled all over, was wide awake, and we made silly faces. We had fun dressing him up in his “I Love My Daddy” outfit. He’s getting bigger and able to turn his head left and right when he’s on his back. He kicks and throws his arms about wildly. In short (no pun intended)… he’s getting to be fun! And louder!
(Short pause)
OK, I’m done feeding the boy. He fell asleep on me and was curled up into a little ball. Normally that would cause him to drop his oxygen saturation levels, but he did really well tonight. We made it all the way through the feeding, and then his monitor ran low on batteries. It turns out that the power cord was broke and kept falling out of the unit. Enter MacGyver Dad… Jeffrey in one hand and a roll of medical tape in the other. A few minutes later, we had a working monitor back on AC power, and all the cables secured in place with enough medical tape to withstand a minor earthquake. Hey, I like to feel useful.
Mom’s hanging out with the boy for a few minutes before we head home for the night to our other neglected children: Pixel, Berkeley, Cisco and perl.
Vitals: Nurse Sonya on duty tonight. 1325g (down 15g since last measurement. That’s OK). He’s feeding at 25cc, 8x per day. He had to stop for a little bit last night because of a slight residual (7cc), but x-rays showed no concerns. It was a cool x-ray machine, painted like a giraffe! He really doesn’t like having to wear a nasal cannula. Perhaps tonight during rounds the doctors will suggest trying him on room air.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Movin' On Up!

One thing that you don’t want to hear when you come to visit your baby in the NICU: “Let’s see if we can find your baby.” Jeffrey’s been moved once, from B2 pod to C2 pod. We’ve come to know and enjoy the nurses in our pod, so it came as some disappointment when I learned that Jeffrey had been moved out of the NICU and into a NICU-annex in the Pediatric Critical Care Unit. But that didn’t last long. As much as we’ll miss our old nurses, the new “suite” is very nice. It’s quiet, there’s a private bathroom and sink, you can pump at the baby’s bedside, there’s a live Ethernet port with Internet access and they play soft music in the room. Jeff’s sharing a room with two other babies and one Nurse Sandy. All in all, it’s quite nice and has a lovely view from the window.
We’ve been told that this means that he’s doing well enough to be in the annex, and that he’ll likely stay up here unless he gets another infection or some other condition. But that’s not going to happen!
I was feeding the boy during doctor’s rounds this morning. Their plan for him right now is to:

  • Slowly wean him off nasal cannula. He’s currently on room air at 0.5-1.0 lpm.

  • Introduce him to breast feeding everyday. He’ll catch on eventually. Literally.

  • Begin adding Human Milk Fortifier (HMF) to his feeds for extra calories.

  • Move him to an open crib once they’re convinced that he’s capable of holding his body temperature without expending too many calories to do it.

  • Continue “dressing him up” so that he’s used the stimulus of clothing touching him. The developmental specialist says that’s a sign of a maturing nervous system.
Vitals: Head circumference holding fast – ultrasound officially revealed no expansion or dissolution of the IVH. Dr. Murray suspects that it will dissolve all on its own soon, and they scheduled a follow-up u/s next week. Weight up to 1345g. For reference, 1361g is 3 lbs. His belly was a little bit big after his 6 PM feeding, but it’s likely that it was just from air or needing to have another movement.
That’s our boy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Emperor's New Clothes

When I arrived at the NICU this morning, I found Jeffrey wearing a cute blue outfit. It’s the first day that his breathing has been stable enough to allow him to wear clothes. Even as size Preemie XXS 0-5lbs, he’s too tiny to even get his feet all the way down to the bottom of the outfit! Nurse Julie let me take him out for his 9 AM feeding and hold him. The doctors came and did rounds while the boy and I hung out. They’ve brought his feedings back up to the full amount, but stretched them out to 50 minutes for 24cc to help minimize reflux. Besides a diagnosis of “very cute”, they’ve decided to finish off his antibiotics and remove his IV access too. Dr. D’Angio says that his next step is to get him off the nasal cannula… when he’s ready.
The follow-up ultrasound was performed last night, and unofficially it looks fine. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get an official diagnosis from Dr. D’Angio or Dr. Murray. He’s doing well on weight, another 20g today to bring him up to 1310g. He held his body temperature well when Danielle had him out in the evening for almost an hour and a half.
That’s all for tonight. I need to finish off homework and catch some sleep. Oh, I posted new pictures… 41 to be exact… at the link on the right.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Developments on Development

I’m taking a break from working on the boy’s room for a few minutes, and I thought I’d catch up with all of Jeffrey’s loyal readers out there. Looking at the counter over there, it looks like there are a lot of you. So here’s a big hello to all the doctors and nurses checking in from the NICU. Hey to NexPress, Kodak and Tissue Typing! Hello to the* newsgroups (a lot of traffic from those Google groups. Thanks for stopping by!). Hello to Gates EMS and Hilton FD. And of course, were would we be without the loving support of all our friends and family? It’s been inspiring to see how many people check in on our little guy, and reading your responses is one of the highlights of our day!
Vital Stats: Today’s looking up again. After a bout this weekend with no feedings for 3½ days due to intestinal inflammation (probably residual from the staph infection), Jeffrey started back on breast milk this morning. He’s back up to full feedings already – 23cc (almost an ounce)! Nurse Practioner Jeannie was working with him yesterday to try and wean him completely off of any airway apparatus, and he went for almost 16 hours with no nasal cannula, but he’s back on just a wee puff of room air to help him a long. I’m learning to be patient, even though I’m really excited and can’t wait to get him home. He gained a lot of weight yesterday… 45 grams! So it was OK that he lost a little (10g) today to round out at 1290g at 5 PM. That’s 2.84 lbs for the metrically challenged. Head circumference is stable, and we’ll have some more info about the IVH tomorrow after his 1 week follow-up head ultrasound. The doctors are also going to discuss feeding again during morning rounds to see if we can interest him in nursing with Mom.
What we learned today: Jeffrey passed his NYS hearing test. That’s good; because I’m pretty sure he didn’t study at all. I think it was a pop-quiz, because I didn’t even know they tested babies’ hearing in the hospital. But they do. There’s even a brochure about it, taped to his isolette.
We spoke with Chris Tryon today. She’s the Child Development specialist in the NICU. She’s going to help us with Jeffrey while he’s in the NICU and teach us how to interact with our little preemie. Because of his size, weight and cognitive capacity, he gets stressed out pretty easily. She told us how important it is that he have uninterrupted deep sleep, but also to sing and talk to him when he’s awake. Take him out and hold him close against your skin. If he does get stressed while he’s out (she taught us what to look for), hold him closer and tightly, just as if he was in the womb. It’s really neat to see things just “click” on. For instance, last week the boy was barely interested in a pacifier. He just couldn’t get the hang of it and it fell out of his mouth almost every time. Now he can’t get enough of it! The next “click” will be eye-movement tracking. Right now he just looks at me (I think) and sometimes his eyes cross. That’s because he doesn’t have control over them well enough to stare or follow things. That will come in the next 2 weeks. She’s got a whole plan for him.
Speaking of plans, I better get back to finishing the nursery. Grandma and Grandpa Sheppard came out this weekend and did patching and painting (Thanks!), and it looks great. I’m stippling the ceiling tonight, and Alicia Nabozny will be out next week to paint a jungle mural on the wall.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.

(There Sue… I posted before midnight. This counts!)

Monday, January 23, 2006

When NICU Babies Attack

Danielle and I took a class offered by the NICU on the Monday after our boy was born. It was called “Your baby in the NICU” or “So you’ve got a kid in the NICU” or “When NICU babies attack”… something like that. It was a nice class that taught us a lot about how to interact with our child-in-an-incubator. We learned about the visiting hours for the parents, grandparents, and extended support members (friends and close relatives… not your mailman, your hair dresser and that one friend you had in high school that liked to stick things up his nose).
What we didn’t learn at the class was how much of an emotional drain it can be surviving on the outside while your little one is struggling on the inside. So, we have formed our own little alliance, Danielle and I, to deal with this. And here’s our creed:

Jeffrey will come home at 40 weeks gestational age, give or take a few weeks. When he comes home, he will be healthy enough for us to bring him home, or else the doctors wouldn’t allow it. During his extended stay in the NICU, he’s going to have some banner days where he’s gain weight, have good vitals, eat food and kick back in the afternoon for some solid naptime. He’s also going to have some really lousy days where his vitals will be in the toilet and the doctors or nurses will have to deliver some bad news du jour. We understand that a) many babies (and parents) before Jeffrey have gone through the same trials and tribulations as we have and b) he’s got the best care available to attend to his every medical, developmental and emotional need.
It’s human nature for us, as his parents (and more so as new parents) to jump up and down on his good days and freak out on his bad days. But we can’t. No more than the veteran Wall Street trader can jump at every fluctuation of his stocks. It’s not healthy for us. While Jeffrey’s at the hospital, it’s our job to be his support team, and it’s hard for us to do when we’re worried ourselves. Therefore, we’ll let the doctors worry for us. And frankly, they don’t seem all that worried very often. That Dr. Murray is one cool cucumber. And Drs. Thingvoll’s & D’Angio seem pretty confident about our boy too.
So you know what I’m going to do? Sing lousy 80’s new wave songs to him, change his diaper every few hours, feed him when I can, and just enjoy every minute I get to spend with my son.

Vitals for today:
Up 20g to 1280, stable vitals throughout the afternoon with a few bradycardic events in the morning. He’s still not able to take feeds due to a distended abdomen since 6pm on 1/21/06. IV nutrition has been re-established. X-rays every 12 hours to diagnose what might be going on in his intestines. Hopefully we’ll have more information tomorrow morning.

On a funny note… Danielle tried breastfeeding yesterday. That’s not the funny part. He wasn’t that interested in latching on, and actually fell asleep in mid-attempt. A good effort, and the nurse (Barb) told us not too worry if he didn’t get the hang of it on the first try… he’s not even 32 weeks yet! Later on, he got to lie on my chest while we fed him his evening feed by tube. Wouldn’t you know it that then he was much more interested in trying breastfeeding? He made a valiant effort. Too bad he was on the wrong chest.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Comeback Kid

Jeffrey says, “Infection? What infection?” Barb was his nurse today, and she told us that they will be discontinuing his IV fluids (Hyperalimentation and interlipids 20%) at midnight. They started him last night with 9cc feedings (1/2 of where he was at before) and now he’s all the way back to 23cc feedings! They refer to that as “full” feedings, which is 140cc per kilo daily. She also told Danielle that if no one mentions breast feeding to her by the end of this week, she should bring it up.
And to top it all off? He gained weight through all of this - 1260g! As of today, he has surpassed his birth weight. Still no change in head circumference, and we’ve got our fingers crossed.
Dani got a surprise tonight as she posted to her news group. One respondent told her that they just bought a new deep freezer, and if she needed any room for milk storage… Well, we’ve shared a lot on the blog, but that seemed really personal. And then she scrolled down and realized that it was our friend Joanne! (Mom to Nathan and Jeremy).
We’re passing on everyone’s well wishes and good thoughts to the boy. He’ll be home before we know it, and we’ll look forward to everyone getting to meet him.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

One day at a time...

Just a quick update. I popped out of the NICU while Jeffrey’s asleep to post this from Dani’s office at Strong.
Good news. He seems to be responding very well to the vancomycin, an anti-biotic used to treat staph epi and staph aureus. His color looks much better, and they’ve taken him off the ventilator and back to room air via nasal cannula. His hand is a little swollen because he had new IVs put in today. I’m going to head back upstairs to get his afternoon vitals. It’s possible that even with all of this chaos, he could still be gaining weight. Right now he’s getting a lot of sleep and enjoying his new purple vanilla pacifier (thanks Isabella!).
The nurses will be doing a head circumference measurement daily to check for any swelling. Normal growth is about 0.5 – 1.5cm per week. He’ll be due for another head ultrasound next Tuesday.
Thanks for everyone’s concern through phone calls and email. It’s all been very comforting to know that Jeffrey has such a large cheerleading section! We’ll do our best to keep everyone updated. New pictures available at the link on the right.
Vitals: 1240g, head circumference 27cm (no change).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hooray for Staph!?

Here’s a short post because we’re both very exhausted from today. Following yesterday’s news and setback, we were looking for any sort of good news from the NICU today. I called at 9:00 AM, before I left for my Sys Admin midterm. Jean told me that he was still stable from the overnight and comfortable on the ventilator. Unfortunately, none of his lab results had shown any signs of infection yet.
At 1:00 PM, we called again and talked to Dr. Theresa Murray, the attending fellow this month in the NICU. She told us more or less the same thing, Jeffrey was stable, and the ventilator was doing the bare minimum amount of work required to keep him breathing consistently. And hey, he even gained an ounce overnight!
When we came in to visit at 5:00, Dr. Murray asked to speak with us. She told us that, although it was rare with preemies that make it to 29 weeks, Jeffrey had developed an intraventricular hemorrhage in his brain. They found it this afternoon on a head ultrasound. His is a grade 2, and that means that there is little risk for further complications. They will monitor him very closely to see if his head swells at all this week and do a follow up ultrasound in seven days. They’re not sure when the bleed began – it could have been caused during birth, or could have been triggered by an infection. If it stays at a level 2, then within a week or two it will clot up and dissolve. It if progresses, there may be some surgical interventions that they can do to prevent permanent damage. Such a case would put him at higher risk for developmental complications and cerebral palsy.
Just as we were about to head home for the night, Jeffrey’s nurse Betty Vetter stopped us to let us know that the labs called and they found an infection. We immediately went to talk to Dr. Murray, and she confirmed that the lab cultures found Staphylococcus in his samples. They need to confirm which type: epidermidis or aureus. The later is more serious and harder to treat. However, this is good news because both can be treated by antibiotics very successfully. She said that this is a likely candidate for the cause of his lethargy yesterday, and it’s possible that the IVH is just there, and not causing any problems at all.
When is a staph infection a good thing? When it’s not a brain bleed.
We’re making friends with some of the other parents in the NICU, including a father of twins who’s been there for 51 days with 77 more to go. They’ve been very uplifting with their tales of endurance. Many of them have already been through the same highs and lows we’re taking, and it’s reassuring to hear how they’ve coped. Least of all, it’s forced the cold reality upon me that it’s an intensive care unit for a reason.  

Roller Coasters Have Downhills Too

Well, today has certainly been an exciting day to say the least. This morning Jeffrey was doing really well, the docs even suggested that we start looking toward releasing him. Unfortunately when Brian came back for the noon feeding Jeff seemed a little listless and was having some trouble breathing. His heart rate was elevated for about 15 minutes or so and the nursing staff suggested that he may have an infection. Apparently a lot of preemies have problems with infections around days 7 to 10. The nurse stopped his feeding and they put him in the isolette to keep an eye on him.
When I arrived at 3pm, there were a cluster of people around Jeff’s isolette and a doctor immediately came over to me and said they were just about to call me. They let me know that it is apparent that Jeff has an infection and that they believe that they caught it early. They were running a number of tests; they were collecting blood, urine and doing a spinal tap. Some of the results will be back tonight and some will take a few days to come back. They started him on antibiotics to be proactive and not to waste any time. They took an xray of his belly and chest to look for NEC. Those films came back showing that his belly was distended and his bowel walls were thick. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he has NEC but could mean that he was heading in that direction so it was a good idea to scale back on feedings.

While I was there he had a number of apenic episodes and the nurse told me that it was very likely that he would go back on some type of oxygen therapy. After a number of these episodes, his nurse Jeanne said that he would likely go back on the ventilator because the positive pressure of the CPAP would aggravate his belly and bowel. Before we went home, they intubated him and put him back on the ventilator. It was set for 30 breaths per minute and it basically breathes for him so that he can relax. After going back on the vent, he’s able to spend more of his energy fighting off his infection instead of worrying about his breathing.
We went home for the night at the urging of our nurse. She recommended that we go home and get some sleep. They said that he will probably go downhill for the first 24 hours before he starts to improve. He’s in the best hands possible and they caught this very early. We’re really hopeful and everyone says that this is something that every baby in the NICU goes through. Wish us luck and keep Jeffrey in your prayers.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Returning to Normalcy?

(If you haven't checked it out yet, there's a picture gallery on the right under "Jeffrey's Bookmarks")
What a whirlwind ride these past days have been. Now that we’ve successfully navigated our first week as newbie parents, it’s time to get back in track. One piece of advice that everyone has given us is the importance of setting up a routine. Of course, he’s been added to our lives, not the other way around – but he really hasn’t learned the whole concept of “compromise” yet. Fortunately for us, since he is still in the NICU, an artificial routine has already been established. The NICU is one of the best babysitting services around, and they’ve got him on a feeding schedule every 3 hours. That’s going to be great once we get him home.
We’ve also got a good schedule going on. I can arrive at the hospital in time for his 9A feeding, and still be on time for my 10 A class at RIT. Danielle’s got a great pumping routine and is ahead of Jeffrey’s feedings by at least a few days. We look forward to each feeding that we attend and the opportunity to hold him.
Here’s his progress for the past few days:

  • Gaining weight. Born at 1255g, dropped down to 1090g and is back up to 1190g 1210g!

  • Increasing feedings. Every 12 hours, the nurses increase the amount of breastmilk that he’s fed by NG gavage. This evening he was up to 17cc.

  • IV was removed in his hand, and the doctors are optimistic about removing his umbilical line tomorrow or Wednesday. That means no more fluids by IV.

  • Bilirubin levels down to 7.6 and off the light therapy. He’s been on and off the lights, and it’s not unheard of to bounce back and forth a few times before the liver is developed enough.

  • By the end of the week he may be able to try breast feeding. Since this will change his feeding volume and caloric intake (only 110 cal/kg!), the NICU will be adding a supplement called Human Milk Fortifier. It adds an additional calorie per ounce of milk. We'll need to watch his weight carefully, since there's no such thing as a breast milk nipple meter to determine how much he's getting.

  • Back on a nasal cannula of room air at 1% for a little while to reduce apneic events.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Update from mom

Well the last few days have been quite a blur, but happily Jeffrey and I are doing well. Yesterday Jeffrey’s bili levels came down low enough that we could take him off the lights and he went up to 6cc feedings of breast milk. Brian called me at about noon to let me know the news and to tell me that they were waiting for me to start “kangaroo care.” Kangaroo care means that I get to hold him skin to skin and it’s supposed to help them bond and get well faster. Mom and I went into the NICU at about 2:30 and I got to hold Jeff for a whole hour! It was so wonderful; I would just cuddle him all day if I could. He’s got the softest skin and he felt perfect against my chest. Brian got to hold him at the 9:00 feeding for about 45 minutes. They were only supposed to allow Bri about 20 minutes but the staff got busy with a new baby and we got to hold him for longer. The nurse apologized to us but we certainly didn’t care. As long as we can hold his temperature it I okay for him to be out of the isolette. Mom still hasn’t held him because she still has a bit of a head cold but is in checking him out every day with me. I think today she may be able to handle him a little. It’s driving her crazy to come in and not be able to touch him.
I am doing pretty well, I’m still really tired and sore but it’s getting better every day. I’m trying to pump breast milk every three hours so its making sleep a little fractured at night. Mom is here for another week to help us out though, so at least I don’t have to really worry about anything else. We’ll be in to visit the boy today again. The car is finally working again, thanks to Kevin and Brian! Tonight we’re going to skip Jeffrey’s night feeding so that we can go interview a pediatrician. Sooner than we think, he’ll be ready to come home and he’ll need a doctor to take care of him.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mom Comes Home

Danielle was discharged from the hospital today. The doctors gave her some restrictions on activity (no driving for 10 days, no skydiving) and some nice prescriptions for pain. She’s happy to be out of the hospital and back into more familiar surroundings, but it’s hard to leave without Jeffrey.
Meanwhile, back at the NICU, Jeffrey is being a star pupil. I stopped in for his 6 AM feeding and here’s what the doctors told me…

  • Bilirubin levels have dropped from 11 to 9 and are still decreasing. Update 10 PM: bili is down to 8.4!

  • CPAP has been removed and nasal cannula supplemental oxygen dropped to 1.5 L/min, possibly removed or lowered more tomorrow.

  • He’s started on breast milk feedings. He has to handle eight 2cc syringes of milk before they’ll graduate him to 4cc syringes full. Update 10 PM – He had his first 4cc feeding tonight!
We were allowed to hold him outside of the fort today for about ½ hour. His temperature remained steady the whole time. His doctors and nurses are very pleased with his progress, and we’re so proud of him.

On Monday night we took a class from Daicia, and RN with the NICU. She taught us a few things about preemie babies. Since their nervous system is still very immature, they startle very easily. This means that you can’t stroke a preemie, they require a stable firm pressure type of touch instead of a feathering your fingers over their body. At their stage of development, they’d still be in the confines of the womb, so their used to being held very tightly. It’s best to simulate that environment in his fort as well. Also, NICU babies need to sleep as much as possible, since that’s when they heal and grow. So instead of touching and playing with your baby (which is good when they’re awake), try talking to them so that they hear your voice. You can talk about anything.
Today, Jeffrey and I talked about how nodes on a network detect collisions and the protocols used within that collision domain. Sure, he doesn’t seem to know an awful lot about CSMA/CD, but he could at least nod like he’s sorta interested. Oh well, at least he doesn’t argue with me!
Dani and I will be splitting up our time in the NICU to try and cover all of his daytime feedings. I’ll be doing the 9 AM and 12 PM, and Danielle will do the 3 PM and 6 PM ones. It’s the only place we want to be right now.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Welcome to Week 30

Our boy is making great progress. I got up this morning to visit in the NICU after the nurses’ shift change at 7:45 AM. He was lying there, just as we left him the night before, under the “tanning lights”. Jeffrey has a very low tolerance for jaundice, so preemies are kept under these blue lights to help their bodies break down the higher levels of bilirubin that their young liver cannot.
He graduated off the ventilator yesterday afternoon. Dr. D’Angio tells us that his progress is very good. He’s still on the CPAP device (continuous positive airway pressure), as his lungs are still a little on the under-cooked side. But even that’s going well, and they’re considering removing the CPAP today or tomorrow. That’s good, because he finds it kinda irritating.
Danielle and I were able to take him out of his giraffe “fort” for about a half hour last night and hold him. For the first time, we were able to feel our baby against our bodies and kiss his teeny wrinkled forehead. It was amazing.
Just before I left for school, Danielle was able to express her first drops of breastmilk. It was enough for the NICU to freeze for his first feeding, coming up this week. They’ve warned us that feeding can be a very difficult time in the NICU with preemie babies. Often it’s “two steps forward, one step back”, and we’re not sure yet how developed his bowels are to handle non-IV food yet. But it’s a good sign that he had his first bowel movement yesterday (I changed his first diaper!).
Thank you for all the well wishes that have been pouring in over the weekend via the blog, email, phone and visits. We’re so glad to have such an amazing network for friends and family to share this experience with. Visitors are welcome at 3-1215 at Strong Hospital, though we can’t allow visitors into the NICU right now. Tomorrow (Tuesday), Dani goes home.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Jeffrey's First Night

Here’s some picture’s from Jeffrey’s first night in the NICU. He looks like a bit of a lobster boy. They hope to be able to take the breathing tube out today, and maybe even let us hold him very soon. His prognosis is very good right now. If all goes well, we will try to give him breast milk through a feeding tube by the end of the week.
Grandma and Grandpap are going to bring in a Terrible Towel for his isolette so that he can cheer for the Steelers today.

Update: Jeffrey leads the Steelers to victory over the Bengals with his Terrible Towel. Grandpap says, "One for the thumb!"

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Welcome to This World: 2.75 lbs.

Danielle began having some cramps yesterday afternoon. We called her doctor and spoke to the nurse on duty. She said that the number of exam we’ve had this week correlates to some discomfort. We carried on the rest of the day, and the cramps got worse. We assumed that she was having Braxton Hicks contractions. But things continued to get a little more concerning, so upon the advice of our friend Joanne (who just delivered her second child a few months ago) we called our doctor again. Dr. Corale Surgeon told us to come into Highland Hospital.
Nurse Louise took good care of us at HH, but it soon became apparent that Danielle was running a fever from an infection and that the amniotic fluid was dangerously low… and possibly septic. Jeffrey’s heart rate was spiking to very high levels. The resident on duty told us that we needed to go to Strong Hospital’s Neonatal unit, because the baby needed to come out. Ohmygod! Did she just say that the baby was going to be born? Today?!
At 11:30 PM, Gates Ambulance arrived to transfer Danielle to Strong – Paramedic Bryan Gammill, Ed Verdouw and Ed & Nancy Mauro. Highland docs had already begun to give Dani some antibiotics to fight the infection and some steroids to help the baby’s lung development. When we arrived on Strong’s 3.1400, they began an oxytocin drip and some codeine for pain. I called Mike in a panic, as we hadn’t packed a hospital bag. He ran up to Hilton without hesitation and grabbed clothes and our camera at 3:00 AM. Dani struggled with contractions of increasing strength and frequency through the night. At about 7:30, Dr. Becks came in to administer an epidural. Third time’s a charm to get the numbness.
Her contractions progressed through the morning, in a little more comfort. Kevin & Kimberly arrived with cold Pepsi to celebrate after the pending delivery. At 10:15, I went to greet them. Within a few minutes, the nurse came to get me and said “Your wife is ready to deliver NOW.” They checked her cervix and realized that she was dilated fully and his head was on its way!
I gowned up and ran to the room. Dani got ready and began her first push. The head was already visible – or at least a small portion of it. The next push brought his head up to the ears. One more push and he was out! 10:30 AM. The pediatricians rushed him into another room and began administering oxygen, as his lungs were not fully developed. They invited me in within a few minutes. I said “hello” to my new son and shed tears of happiness.
Dani and I got situated after the birth as Jeffrey was whisked off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). They transferred us to a new room as our friends and family showed up. Everyone was so incredibly helpful.
We’ve been in to see our son a few times today, and we’ve tried to bring everyone in to see him who’s shown up at the hospital. Hey, we’re proud of him! He’s on a ventilator now so they can apply surfactant to his developing lungs. Dr. Lavender hopes that he can be off the vent by tomorrow.
We’re very excited and very exhausted. Thank you to everyone who’s been there for us.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New York-Presbyterian Hospital

We had a small amount of drama today. This morning Dani woke up and thought that maybe her water might have broken. Bill helped us out and we hailed a taxi up to the hospital. The driver spoke broken English and was a little hesitant to drive up to the emergency entrance. Bill told him that today he could pretend he was an ambulance.
The nurse admitted Dani on the labor and delivery floor, which is standard practice for anyone over 20 weeks (see date above). They had her gown up and put on fetal monitors. Jeffrey kicked them. A lot. But his heart rate was good, and very consistent at 150 bpm. So was Mom’s. The doctor came in and did an exam, and the followed it up with an ultrasound (number 13 for the boy!).
We were discharged from NYPH about an hour later. Bill hung out in the waiting room during the whole ordeal and took good care of us on both arrival and departure. The doctor’s suggestion was that we return to Rochester and pay a visit to the perinatologist back home. So that’s what we’re doing… we decided to cut our trip short and see if Dr. Lim can tell us what happened this morning. The doctor did tell us that Jeffrey appears healthy, and all of the parts inside seem to be where they’re supposed to be.
We’ll be tracking this story as it progresses… it was a good practice run for us for the big day, at least!

Happy New Year!

Only 80 days to go. Happy New Year from New York City. We’re down here staying with our friend Bill. He lives just a few blocks from Times Square, so we waited until about 11:30 PM and then walked out to the corner of 54th St. and 7th Ave. – that’s about half way between Times Sq. and Central Park. We were able to walk into a corral easily and it wasn’t even that crowded. The ball dropped, and the cheering was very loud. The weather was perfect! Jeffrey got to usher in the new year with a kick!