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Thursday, March 09, 2006


The question I’ve been asked more than any other this week: What’s it like finally having the baby home?
It’s amazing!
This whole week has just been a journey of joy and happiness. Each sound, each movement just makes us smile. And as much as we’ve loved their care and support, it’s been nice to be able to enjoy our child outside of the walls of the NICU.
I’m actually typing this post with Jeffrey sleeping on my chest. He’s drunk on breast milk. It happens.
We’ve been taking it easy and trying to get things organized around the house while Jeffrey sleeps. To our good fortune, that’s something he does quite a lot, and very well I might add. We don’t make a lot of effort to be especially quiet, and he’s used to sleeping through all the bells and buzzers in the hospital. According to our charts (did you expect anything else from us?), he’s been sleeping about 3.5 hrs on average and taking about 3 ounces per feeding from me and about 15 minutes of nursing from Danielle. We were told to expect some of his eating and sleeping habits to change when he came home, until he adjusts to his new environment. And to top all of that, Jeffrey moved into his own room after just two nights home with us. We tried it to see how he would do, and he aced it! Of course, we keep the baby monitor glued on him all night long, but this was one more step in making it feel like things are becoming a little more normal.
Wednesday was our big day. At 9:00 AM, Tery Waterhouse from Monroe County’s Early Intervention Program came to visit him. She explained how the program worked. Because Jeffrey was a preemie and diagnosed with PVL, he has a higher potential than full term babies to have a learning disorder or developmental disability. The EIP works to minimize the impact that has on the child’s life. They have teachers, social workers, physical therapists, nurses and more! Best of all, the program is funded through the taxes we already pay and Federal Grants. And since they understand the situation that newborn preemies are in, they come to your house for all visits! Jeffrey will remain in this voluntary program until age 3.
After Tery left, we packed up the boy and headed to his pediatrician’s office. It was a quick visit with Dr. Gretchen Smith-Burke to learn that he’s gained 4 ounces since discharge and 2 inches since birth – 4 lbs 14 ounces and 17 inches long. We’ll be seeing her every week to monitor his weight. We scheduled his follow-up boosters and made sure that we were all on the same page with his care and well-being.
Our last stop of the day was Rochester Eye Associates. The eyes are one of the last things to fully develop in a newborn. Because of this, Jeffrey had two eye exams while in the NICU. In the back of the eye is the part known as the retina. It apparently grows from the inside towards the outer edge of the eye. After his 2nd exam, they declared his eyes “zone 2, immature”, which means that the retina has grown into the 2nd of 3 zones on the back of the eye. The zones appeared to be ring shaped on the drawing they showed me, like a bullseye. The immature simply means that they’re not done growing yet. More importantly, they didn’t find any signs of eye disease like ROP or scaring of the retina. During this exam, Dr. Assilan found Jeffrey’s eyes to now be “zone 3, immature”. This is perfectly acceptable for a child that is still two week before his due date. We grabbed some burgers at Zebb’s and headed home after a very long day. Jeffrey had gone 7 hours without a feed (normal for all the stress he’d had) and we knew that any moment he was going to explode into fits of “Feed Me Now. Jeffrey Smash!”
Once the boy was fed, we took the opportunity to sort through all of his clothing and make piles for different sizes, and finally put it away in his dressers. I tell you, we’re going to get organized… just you wait! Thanks to everyone’s great gifts, our boy will be wearing clothes for a long time!
The last development of this first week home is Tummy Time. We started this with Jeffrey on Sunday, for only 5 minutes, and managed to increase it to several times a day for a few minutes each time. His doctors and development specialists recommend placing a rolled up receiving blanket under his arms to encourage his movement around. We’ve also propped him up on the Boppy pillow so that he could feel the movement in his legs making his upper body move up and down. So far, he’s been able to lift his head up and move it from left to right, as well as lifting both of his legs. On one occasion, he used his right arm to push himself up for just a few seconds. While he doesn’t grab at things, he does clutch things when he knows where they are: his pacifier, the collar of my shirt, my finger, etc.
Danielle’s already trying to hook up Jeffrey with a certain young Newberry girl. Ms. MacKenzie Jane is a petite young lady, especially next to her brother. I told Dani that he’s got his work cut out for him… she’s an older woman, by almost 20 months!
Not that I want Jeffrey to think that he’s small. On the contrary. Heck, he’s still negative 2 weeks old, considering that his due date was March 22nd. We refer to him as “big guy”, but sometimes that’s not enough. So we play Big Time by Peter Gabriel, and put on CDs by Big & Rich and Mr. Big. We watched Big Fish, The Big Lebowski and of course, Tom Hanks in Big. I wonder if it’s getting through?


Anonymous said...

Hey! Dr. Assilan is MY eye doctor too! Sounds like Jeffrey's doing great!


ArthurDent said...

The Dude abides.
El Dudarino is not into the whole brevity thing.
The Dude is proud to have Baby Jeffrey watching his movie, The Big Lebowski.

K said...

Starting off so small guarantees he'll grow up to be 7 feet tall. So when he's playing basketball, you all can lovingly refer to him as "Little Jeffrey" and embarrass him to his girlfriends by explaining how tiny he was in the beginning.

mike iskra said...

Sounds like you're well on your way to creating that all important routine for him. Don't forget how you did it because, most certainly, somebody will mess it up and you'll need to do it again.

While not surprised at the detailed tracking of intake, I am surprised that you don't have the statistics (graphs and all) showing the ratio of oz intake to diaper burn rate. :-)

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