“We’re so proud of how she’s doing so far and very optimistic about all of this. She has a great team taking care of her, which is a major blessing.”
We felt optimistic about the progress Oaklee had made, having been switched to a vent on the first.
We felt like parents, having finally gotten to hold our baby on the second.
And then we entered into a totally new stage – yet another one we’d neglected to think about/prepare for (as if we could) – one where we’d navigate, together, home, work and hospital.
July 2 was my first time in a car since May 26. My husband and I drove home together after spending the morning and afternoon with Oaklee and then going through my discharge instructions. Everything felt odd about that day. I was going home. I was nowhere near recovered. I was leaving the hospital I had been bound to for 37 days. I was finally going to sleep in my own bed. But my baby was staying.
When we got home, we took naps before unpacking the boxes of my stuff that had accumulated at the hospital. We were exhausted. After unpacking, we went to bed. It was the most sleep I’d gotten in months, and I even had to wake up twice to do the small little detail that never crossed my mind until after my baby was born – pump.
I wouldn’t say I neglected to think about the fact that my baby would have to eat, but I neglected to think about the fact that in order for that to happen, a lot of other things had to happen. Two hours after giving birth, when a nurse came in and asked, “Are you ready to pump?” I was caught off guard and asked for another hour before beginning that journey. Of course it was a journey I would take. I’d always planned on breastfeeding, but why it had never crossed my mind that pumping was going to be such a major part of this stage, I have no idea.
I went from waking up once or twice a night to a blood gush rush to waking up twice a night to sit with my pump for 15 minutes. In the beginning, my feet were so swollen and I was in so much pain that I pumped upstairs with my feet in a bucket of cold water and put the milk in a cooler that my husband would bring down in the morning. I was still using a wheelchair at the hospital for crying out loud.
On the third, then, we made our first trip to the hospital together to see Oaklee. We’d gotten a call that morning notifying us of significant progress. Oaklee had been extubated around midnight. She no longer required the assistance of a vent, and was switched to a CPAP machine. No one anticipated this much progress this fast for the girl who was “the sickest of the sick” and potentially not going to make it.
We’d been warned that NICU time is usually like a rollercoaster, but so far, Oaklee had only moved onward and upward – and in significant ways.
While breathing issues were of the greatest concern for Oaklee, it’s worth noting that in this first week, we were dealing with other issues, potential threats and standard NICU/preemie things.
- Oaklee had to be in the midline position (her head central) to reduce the risk of intraventricular hemorrhage (brain bleeds) for an entire week. After her second brain scan, we could turn her head as long as the results came back clear.
- Above colostrum swabs, Oaklee received her nutrition in the form of TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) and lipids through an IV until her body learned how to digest as she was born before the gestational age in which this takes place.
- With a body so small, Oaklee’s blood was tested daily and she was often given certain vitamins via IV depending on what she was lacking that day. More often than not, she was low in iron. Anemia is extremely common in preemies.
- She spent a significant time receiving phototherapy under a bililight for jaundice – an indication that her liver was not working properly – also extremely common in preemies.
- They monitored her pneumothorax with daily chest x-rays until it resolved on its own.
- They monitored the PDA in her heart, with hopes that it would close on its own. PDAs are very common in low birth weight infants and, therefore, preemies.
In her first week, Oaklee had more x-rays and brain scans and medical tests than most people have in a lifetime.
And still, she was making significant progress.
Oscillator –> Ventilator –> CPAP
Onward and upward.
In the stats:
Birth weight: 2lb, 12 oz
Last known weight: 2lb 7 oz
Gestational Age: 28 weeks, 2 days
Days in the hospital: 5
Sets of visitors to see Oaklee: 8
Days on High Frequency Oscillator: 2
Days on Ventilator: 1
Days on CPAP: 1