Tag Archives: kris

the eric update – day 34: no ROP (yet)! a kilo! wet dogs. and flowers.

day 34: a hand hold with piglet

eric seems to be stabilizing quickly. he only had 6 alarms today, which is a lot better than the 36 he had just a few days ago – and many of those alarms were induced the nurses “meanie” sessions where they due all manner of not fun things to him. and he’s continuing to pack on the weight; tonight he weighed in at 1020 grams which is 2 pounds 4 ounces and means that he’s finally, officially hit the kilo mark! hooray! his breathing also seems to be getting more regular and stronger, which means that they’ll probably try to put him back on the nasal cannula soon.

we were also surprised to find that his eye specialist came by for eric’s initial visit to assess whether or not he any signs of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). we were surprised because we weren’t expecting to see the eye doctor for another week or two. i guess they like to check micropreemies early and often. the absolutely fantastic news is that the doc says that his eyes are “perfect” right now! that said, the doctor cautioned us that it’s nearly a certainty to see some manifestation of ROP in a micropreemie, so they are going to keep a close eye on him ( ahem! it’s an eye specialist joke! ) in the coming weeks.

other than that, all was quiet on the nicu front. we still haven’t been able to resume the kangaroo care, but hopefully that will change over the next day or so.

a day at the dog park. II.

and i have photographic proof that kris and i are trying our best to regain some semblance of our normal schedule. today, we had a little free time and we went to the dog park. our city isn’t very dog friendly, in terms of official dog parks, so we had to become members of a private dog park; prior to eric’s birth we were dog park “regulars”, but haven’t been able to find time recently for all the obvious reasons, much to the dismay of our two dogs. so, today, we were finally able to enjoy a little time away from the nicu with the dogs.

a day at the dog park. I.

a day at the dog park. III.

a day at the dog park. IV.

bees do it

and we even stopped to smell the flowers. even if they weren’t roses.

a small, red flower made quite large

the eric update – day 32: yet more alarms. bile. gifts!

day 32: another finger grab

yowza. even after getting a dose of lasix, which is a diuretic meant to help his get rid of the fluid that he was retaining after the transfusions, eric weighed in at 978 grams or 2 pounds 2.3 ounces, which would seem to indicate that his weight gain over the past few days was more “real” than not. yeah!

after a cluster of alarms in the morning, eric had a quiet afternoon and then started up with them again in the evening. though he “only” had eleven a’s and b’s by the time we left, they were disturbingly “deep” in the evening, requiring a lot of effort to get him “jumpstarted”, necessitating a big jump in ‘oooooohs’ ( supplemental oxygen – remember, anytime they increase his ‘ooooohs’ he’s at an increased risk for eye problems down the road. it’s all so very, very connected. ). at a certain point i was left wondering if it might be best to just put him back on the vent to give him a rest. and we noticed before we left late at night that he was starting to use his intercostal muscles, which are the muscles lying between ribs, during his breathing; it might seem like a minor point, but it means that he’s he’s getting quite tired, and trying to recruit more muscles to help him to breath, which only makes him more tired. his nurses were still holding out hope that he’d settle down over the night, so i guess we get to play another round of The Waiting Game.

day 32: bile on the side

at one point i was able to capture one of those special nicu moments that involves bile, poop and breathing. the syringe is filled with a mixture of undigested milk with a little bile, which is what gives it a green tint. the tube gets filled when he refluxes fluid back out of his stomach. there are a number of reasons why he might reflux , one of which being that he might be trying to poop, which is why kris is checking his diaper.

if he struggles to poop, he’ll put too much pressure on his abdomen and force the contents of his stomach up into the tube.

besides being slightly gross, the pressure will also affect his vagus nerve which will slow his heartrate and breathing, resulting in bradycardia or apnea – which is exactly what happened right after i took this picture.

day 32: his first collegiate t-shirt!

amongst the postcards we received today, we also were happy to find a toddler t-shirt from some of eric’s new friends who are attending penn. i doubt they have micropreem cloths at the penn giftstore so they sent him a 6 month shirt for a full term baby.

as you can see, it might be awhile before he’s able to wear it.

thank you very much melody ( and your roommate too! ). i can’t hardly wait until i can take a picture when it fits him properly. it’s astounding to think that complete strangers have gone through all the effort to send him such a gift and words really can’t describe how touching we find the gesture.

we also received a bunch more postcards today. it means a great deal to us to be able to walk into the nicu and read everyone’s supportive postcards. i need to get my act together and find a way to show everyone where all his cards are coming from. special thanks go out to adam and johanna who are friends from california who appear to be traipsing around california and sending postcards from los angeles to sonoma to san francisco. eric IV enjoys each and every one of them ( as do we, of course ). thanks!

day 32: his new favorite blanket

later in the evening we would get the chance to put him under a super soft blanket that some friends gave eric when he first arrived in the nicu. the nurses all commented on how comfortable he looked nestled in it. it’s big enough that i think he’ll be able to enjoy it for his entire stay. he seemed to like to rub his hand against the plush border of the blanket.

day 32: being held

after a tough day, eric enjoys being held by kris. it’s not quite as good as kangaroo care, but it’s good enough.

much, much later in the evening ( o.k. really, it was early, early, early the next morning ) we called the nicu and eric had finally settled down with his alarms, so it looks like we can sleep relatively easily.

the eric update – day 30: first bath from mama!

day 30: eric's first bath from mama. I.

when you’re in the nicu for you spend a lot of time wondering when you’ll get the chance to do the simple things that other parents take for granted. for 30 days we’ve pondered, contemplated and bet when eric would be stable enough for a bath from mama.

and woohoooo! late in the night we were pleasantly surprised to find that we could give eric his first bath! i think both of us felt a mix of complete elation along with a good dose of pensiveness that he might stop breathing or his heart rate would dip.

he’s been getting “spit baths” all along, but surely none of them were as fun as the one he got from mama. most of the hands you see belong to kris, but every so often nurse sue lends a helping hand. i, of course, am darting in and out, trying to capture the entire thing.

micropreems don’t usually like baths very much; from their perspective it’s just something that makes them very cold and all the touching can lead to overstimulation tantrums. but i guess eric isn’t like most micropreems, since he was quite content through most of the process

first things first – you must start by wiping the crud from his eyes.

day 30: eric's first bath from mama. II.

and a little more scrubbing. nurse sue is holding his head and kris provides the other two hands.

day 30: eric's first bath from mama. III.

more scrubbing.

day 30: eric's first bath from mama. IV.

the ears must be cleaned.

day 30: eric's first bath from mama. V.

scrubbing bubbles. kris applies soap to his very sensitive skin.

day 30: eric's first bath from mama. VI.

help!! eric is pleading for me to intervene.

day 30: eric's first bath from mama. VII.

kris is picking eric up in an attempt to get his head closer to the water.

day 30: eric's first bath from mama. VIII.

kris is gently applying some water to eric IV’s head right before she adds some shampoo.

day 30: eric's first bath from mama. IX.

you can’t have a bath without being dried off.

day 30: eric's first bath from mama. X.

i think that might be the beginnings of a smile.

the eric update – day 27: the ho-hums

day 27: ponderous

we spent a lot of time at the nicu today, just keeping an eye on eric. he’s had a few more “a’s” and “b’s” than normal over that past few days and his oxygen levels have been turned up ( room air is about 20% oxygen and after a long stint of not having any supplemental oxygen, he’s getting anywhere between 25 and 30%. the bloody goo problems are continuing and it’s raising the background level of anxiety as we’re spending more time tapping his butt or rubbing his back to try and get him to breath. we discussed things with his nurse practitioner and from her perspective he’s still doing really, really fantastic. and concurred with kris’ observation that the bloody goo problems and the cpap mask are part of a vicious circle. the air in the cpap mask dries out his throat and the suction catheter makes the irritated parts bleed. it just comes with the territory. here’s to hoping it doesn’t continue for too much longer, because at this rate he’s not going to want anyone to touch every touch his nose after he gets out for a very, very long time.

day 27: four 0'clock prep time

we also didn’t get much ‘roo time in today as the only chair that fully reclines was in use and if we try to do the ‘roo while sitting upright, we find that his neck muscles can’t keep his head in the rights positions to get him a steady supply of air. so instead, we just hung around his bed and kept him company.

kris talks with eric a nurse beth does her regularly scheduled nasty things to him. he’s moving his head around looking at all of us as kris talks to him and holds his hand.

he’s just had his cpap mask taken off and you can how the cpap regime makes his eyes red and swollen. this time it’s not too bad, but sometimes it looks quite uncomfortable. he’s on the cpap mask for 4 hours and the nasal cannula for 4 hours. hopefully soon, he’ll be off the mask entirely.

[ update: much later in the day ( o.k. maybe it was technically early, early the following day, i did get to hold him for awhile; the nicu was abuzz with reports of a possible ’22 weeker’ being admitted, but as our nurse said, everyone is hoping that they can delay the birth, since – as she put it – “22 weeks is not really, well, compatible with life.” it’s odd to look at eric and know that there’s just two short weeks between their birth gestational ages. a lot of biology must happen in those two weeks. ]

day 27: ears and gray hair

while i normally hate pictures of myself, and would typically despise pictures that featured by ear prominantly, i think i’ll make an exception with this one. there’s something i like about the composition of the ears and my hairy head with his not-so-hairy one.

and i i can blame all my gray hair on eric. see, it’s not that i’m old – people with black hair go gray prematurely. and having a 24 weeker doesn’t help the situation.

glad i cleaned my ears that morning. and no, that’s not a mullet. honest.

day 27: the cpap machine

with all the commentary about it, i realized that i hadn’t taken a photo of the cpap machinery. it looks innocuous, no?

i don’t think you understand just how difficult it is to take an interesting shot of a cpap respirator.

day 27: eyes on you

he’s on his belly, but that doesn’t mean he doesnt want to look at you.

the eric update – day 25: a tantrum and a little perspective.

day 25: the tantrum I.

with eric IV looking quite content much of the time ( except, of course, when his care routine requires that not-so-fun things are done to him ), i found myself wondering when he was having those tantrums that preemies are famous for. sure, he can get worked up sometimes, clenching his fists and thrusting his feet and making little squeaks. but i we’ve never seen a full-blown, let-out-all-the-stops tantrum. not that you want to see a tantrum, but still. and so, with perfect timing, soon after i arrived this evening, eric decided that something was not right ( of course, it couldn’t have been my voice. no, certainly it wasn’t that ) and started trying to launch himself right out of the bed. and the screaming. if there was any doubt, him pipes are developing well. this went on for about a minute and no amount of consolation from me or kris was helping one iota.

day 25: the tantrum II.

that’s when nurse jan decided it was time to bring in the passifier, because if he has a tantrum for too long then he’ll stop breathing and that’s no good.

day 25:  big hand.  little hand.

the only problem is that he doesn’t really know how to suck on the passifier and breath at the same time, so it’s a delicate balance. eventually, he figures it out and i rest my hand on him, which helps a little too, i guess.

day 25:  postcards

the postcards have started coming in! i’m not sure the nurses believed me when i told them that he was going to start getting cards from all over the world. we’ve just received a few so far, but is suspect they’ll be trickling in for awhile. we were very touched by the kind story from a nice person we don’t know who hails from santa clarita, california. it’s going to be hard to maintain my cynical side if people keep up with such random acts of kindness.

day 25: more 'roo

kris is continuing with her record setting ‘roo sessions. she might do two sessions a day at about 2 or 3 hours apiece ( i bet she’d go longer, but that’s the longest she can go before she has to “pump” ). as i said yesterday, there are many factors involved in how well eric is doing, but i really think all the kangaroo care is big factor. we’re fantastically fortunate that kris can spend so much time in the nicu. she teaches at the local college and has the summer off, so she can spend as much time as she likes with eric. and of course, she likes to spend a lot of time with him ( not that i don’t, silly. you know what i mean. ).

day 25: bearer of the ring

ahhhhhh. it’s the ol’, “put your wedding ring on his diaper to give a sense of perspective” trick. with all the close-ups, it’s easy to forget just how small he still remains ( although he has grown 3.5 inches centimeters ( arrgggh. there’s a big difference between inches in centimeters. i think 3.5 cm is a little over an inch. ) since birth. yeah!).

the eric update – day 20: full feeder!

day 20: full feeder!

as his nurse donna said today, eric enjoys making a liar out of her. just yesterday she said that it would be a few days before they discontinued his IV drip and had him solely on breastmilk. but today when we arrived at the nicu we found him sans his IV lines and taking in 5.2 cc’s of milk an hour!

as soon as we stood over his bed, he opened his eyes and made this gesture as if to say, “geee. it’s so nice to wake up and see you again.” or at least that’s what we’d like think think he was saying 🙂

the best part of getting “full feeds” is that he’s had two IV lines removed. one of them, the peripheral intravenous cardiac catheter (PICC), was causing the bulbous thing earlier in the week so it’s nice to have that gone. they also removed an arterial line from his foot.

day 20: snug as a bug

as an added bonus, removing the lines makes it much easier to move him around during kangaroo care.

day 20: beating the wrap

occasionally, when he’s getting feisty, he’ll push his feet against the plastic wrap that covers his bed which is meant to help keep the heat in.

this is probably one of the toughest photos i’ve shot as the light levels are very low so i have to have a slow shutter speed and and the auto focus wouldn’t work due to the diffuse and wierd light coming off the plastic wrap. if i were a better photographer, i would have been able to capture the times that he rammed his foot so hard into the wrap that it looked like he was going to break through it.

incidentally, i’ve been under the delusion that the plastic wrap was probably some sort of hospital grade super magical polymer. eventually i noticed the large rolls that the staff has delivered from the local restaurant distributer.

the eric update – day 18: mucus interruptus

day 18:  his first diaper change!

we still get to see a fair number of “firsts” each day and today it was the first time that kris had the opportunity to change his diaper! i would have done it, but…er…somebody has to take the pictures 🙂 next time, i’ll be eagerly standing in line. honest.

obviously its not his first diaper change. but it’s the first one that kris gets to do, with a little help from nurse denise. it’s harder than it looks with all the tubes and whatnot, but she did a fantastic job.

given all the relaxing photos of ‘roo care, you might be tricked into believing that he’s not occasionally wisked away under duress.

today, his blood oxygen took a dive and none of the typical measures to get him to breath were working.

day 18:  great gobs of goo

usually that means that he’s collected a sticky wad of mucus in one of his breathing passages, which requires the nurse to suction it out.

his passages were getting clogged a bit more than normal and they were irritated as evidenced by blood getting suctioned out along with the goo. unfortunately, mucous and dried passages come with the CPAP territory. imagine having air blown in your mouth and nose 24 hours a day. i think it’s probably like driving 80 m.p.h. down the highway with your head out the window.

day 18:  kris doing her best attempt to relax

i know it’s “normal”, but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch the nurses shove 6 inches of tubing into his nose and retrieve great gobs of bloody goo. eric doesn’t like it much either. such is life in the nicu sometimes.

in a rare example of restraint, i’ll save you from the picture of what they pulled out of his nose.

he alarmed a bit more than usual during the ‘roo time today from all the goo;

kris did her best impression of someone attempting to relax, but she can’t fool me.

day 18: kick out the jams!

despite it all, eric reminds us that he can teach us a thing or two by taking it all in stride and getting mighty comfortable with his blanket.

he’s not actually listening to music at the moment, but he sure looks like he should be.

the kid knows how to relax, even after a day of having six inches of suction tubes jammed up his nose and down his throat.

and no, sony did not pay for that product placement in the background. hmmmmmmm

and the boy’s Got Milk. he’s on 3 cc’s an hour and tolerating it well.

day 18:  it's hairy back boy!

i know. i know. it’s “lanugo” or as it’s more commonly known as – baby fuzz – and it’s going to go away.

but it’s growing in thick bunches all over the place and it’s amusing to wonder what life would be like for him if it didn’t fall out.