Tag Archives: me

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 24: by the light of the radiant warmer.

day 24:  YAPOETIE

eric’s making it all look so easy. he’s on 6 cc’s an hour of breastmilk and they aren’t pulling out any undigested fluid from his stomach so his digestive track appears to be working well. i forgot to mention that he’s begun pooping on his own. for the first few weeks they had to help out him out by giving what must have been a very small suppository, but i think he’s pooping all by himself now. sniff. they grow up so fast. not much change in his “orders” other than they’ve officially moved him to 4 hours of CPAP and 4 hours of the nasal cannula. and he’s in room air with no supplemental ‘oooohs’ ( oxygen ). at this rate i suspect he’ll be on the cannula full-time quite soon, which is yet another great step forward.

i don’t get to spend as much time in the nicu these days, but kris is on constant vigil and he had over 4 hours of kangaroo care with her, in addition to my paltry 1.5 hours. prayers and good thoughts, genetics and fantastic nicu care notwithstanding, i think that all the ‘roo time is having a trememdous impact on his overall health.

day 24: by the light of the radiant warmer I.

one of the sensory pleasures of the nicu is provided by the heating element that’s placed above him in his radiant warming bed. the heating element helps eric keep his body temperature in a normal range and it glows more or less brightly depending on how well eric is bundled and whether or not eric’s bed is enclosed in plastic wrap. if you’re taking pictures or reading or talking to eric, the heating element really kicks in and it can get uncomfortably hot. you might discover that if you’ve had no sleep on 20 cups of coffee and nothing but a slice of toast to get you through breakfast lunch and dinner that leaning under the radiant heating element might make you feel a little funny. so you might decide to bide time by taking a “mirror” shot while wondering how many mirror project submissions are from people looking at themselves looking at a radiant warmer. prolly not many.

day 24: by the light of the radiant warmer II.

this is what the radiant warmer looks like from eric’s perspective.

i guess since micropreemies like looking at patterns with lots of contrast that he just might find it appealing.

day 24: by the light of the radiant warmer III.

as you’re grasping the bed trying to maintain your stability, what with being baked under the radiant heating element and sweating caffeine, you realize that you’ve seen this caution message a thousand times while continually pondering what “insensible water loss” means. later, google will provide the answer as it usually does.

the eric update – day 22: a day of the (extra)ordinaries

day 22: lounge act

here’s to hoping that i can continue with weeks and weeks of posts that are as boring as this one. nothing much extraordinary happened. well, nothing much beyond a relaxing day filled with five hours of kangaroo care with kris, a diaper change from yours truly ( the second one! kris is not exactly quick draw mcgraw with the camera so we don’t get to see any pictures of me changing him. sniff. ), a bit of eye contact now and then and some quality reading time. of course, he still likes throwing out the occasional “a’s” and “b’s” ( nicu lingo for apneas and bradycardias ), but none of them were long enough to make him turn gray or blue, so that’s progress.

i don’t know how he does it, but he seems to spend a lot time trying to impress upon you just how comfortable he is despite it all. trust me. you know when he’s not comfortable. like when he gets done with kangaroo care. then he turns into a writhing mass of clenched fists and thrusting feet while emitting little squeaks.

day 22: watcher

i like how he tends to open his eyes when i come to his beside to visit. his eyesight is probably no better than 20/600 so it’s best to stand 6-10 inches away. he’s getting better at staying focused on the center of your face when you talk, but he also tends to let his eyes wander around the periphery of your face, which is fairly “normal”. i think in about 3 weeks he’s going to have a set of tests from an eye specialist who is going to be looking for signs of a common problem in micropreemies known as retinopathy of prematurity, which is caused by abnormal blood vessels in the eyes. as with most conditions, there are many different stages and manifestations and variable degrees of success from a cadre of treatment options.

it’s my understanding that he’s at a decreased risk for ROP because his “oooohs” ( nicu lingo for the percentage of oxygen that is added to the air going through his CPAP mask ) have always remained remarkably low. in other words, the staff doesn’t have to add much oxygen for him to have and adequate supply in his blood. while oxygen is obviously important, too much of a good thing can cause abnormal blood vessel growth.

but one must always remember that decreased risk does not mean no risk; for now, it’s impossible to know if he has any manifestation of ROP, so it’s strange to look at his beautiful eyes and wonder if there are problems lurking ahead. it’s just one more thing that you try to prepare yourself for, while still attempting to enjoy the moments you do get to look into his eyes.

day 22: call of the wild

in addition to some reading about pooh, eric very much enjoys being read “call of the wild”. for some reason he identifies with buck, a courageous dog, who is ripped from his cushy surroundings and forced into a life-and-death struggle in the alaskan wilderness where he must learn how to use his wits to survive.

day 22: footsie

after all the heaviness inherent in buck and his amazing adventures, eric finds the time to enjoy a light game of ‘footsie’. well. o.k. it’s not really footsie, but it’s the best we can muster at the moment.

notice that piglet really, really wants to play along too.

the eric update – day 19: new admits. confusion. and countdown to full feeding.

day 19: ruddy red

it might be a little difficult to tell from the photo, but eric is a bright shape of red today. all those new red blood cells from the two transfusions yesterday are working their way through his system and doing their magic.

there have been a bunch of new admits in the nicu over the past 36 hours and the place is packed, with even more hustle and bustle and commotion than normal. it’s a small nicu with only about 15 beds. if i’m not mistaken, there’s only one bed left.

we see many scared and sad faces and it’s tough to revisit the feelings that we know they must be feeling, as a few of the admits are quite sick. the nurses are slightly more harried ( certainly to be expected ) so the ‘tone’ of the nicu has changed a bit. and while eric is in no way being neglected, it still takes the nurses a little longer to get to his bed if he starts to “sag” ( meaning his blood oxygen dips and stays down, but he doesn’t go into a full blown episode of apnea ). it’s hard not to feel ever so slightly ambivalent at the decrease in attentiveness while completely understanding the circumstances.

disturbingly, it appears that they might be having scheduling problems with some planned vacation time colliding with unplanned admits. we see all new nurses for the night shift and suspect that they might be pulling staff from the “bench”. later, eric turned from his ruddy red color to an ash gray during a prolonged case of apnea. while there’s nothing particularly notable about stopping breathing and changing color, it was unusual to have it happen while there appeared to be some confusion about who was his night shift nurse. oof.

and to make matters worse, the new nurse is abrupt and quick in how she handles eric. i’m sure this type of thing happens. people are human. but in the nicu everything is intensified. the seconds that tick by as your child turns ashen last an eternity. moments of brief confusion are amplified.

day 19: laying on hands

in less stressful news, i did find time for kangaroo care today. as usual, he was quite happy and they put his nasal cannula in during ‘roo time, which is less abusive to his system than the CPAP mask, so he was doubly happy.

and the nurses have started to give him 4 cc’s an hour of breastmilk through his “o.j.” tube which delivers it directly to his small intestine. over the next few days they will gradually increase the milk while decreasing the volume of his IV drip. at about 5-6 cc’s of milk they will have completely discontinued his IV and he’ll be officially getting “full feedings”. pooh keeps hearing the nurses referring to the the breast milk as liquid gold and mistakenly thinks they are talking about honey.

day 19:  count down to full feeding

for the one or two of you who might be interested in the caloric needs of a micropreemie – the basal metabolic rate ( the metabolic rate required to simply maintain all vital systems ) of such a small baby is about 70 calories per 1000 grams of the baby’s weight. in order to maintain a steady weight gain, the doctors like to have the baby taking in about 120 calories per 1000 grams. since eric weighs about 700 grams, he should be getting about 84 calories a day. between his breast mild and IV feedings, he’s getting somewhere around 5.2 cc’s of food an hour which is about 125 cc’s throughout the day and that’s 4.2 fluid ounces a day.

both his breastmilk and the intravenous fluid give him something like 20 calories an ounce, which means he’s getting – surprise(!) – 84 calories a day ( 20 calories an ounce times 4.2 fluid ounces a day). which is exactly what he needs to keep him running, while allowing him to put on a bit of weight.

the eric update – day 16: doing the ‘roo with pops

day 16: doing the 'roo with pops

finally! after a false start earlier in the week and kris hogging all the kangaroo care time recently ( obviously, i hold no malice – moms always get first dibs on kangaroo time ), i was beginning to wonder when i’d ever get a chance to get some skin-to-skin time.

day 16: man in the mirror I

he was quite content the entire time, save for every so often when he’d get squirmy and dig his tiny little fingers into my chest.

day 16: man in the mirror II

he stayed on my chest for two hours without throwing a single, solitary alarm. it’s amazing how much their breathing and heart rate stabilize when doing kangaroo care. he’d been having bouts of bradycardia all morning long that immediately disappeared as soon as he was put on my chest. and his heart rate really does do less “bouncing around”.

day 16:  a quick smile

it’s hard to believe that there are still some fairly prominent nicus that don’t encourage the practice. even if the physiological benefits to the baby weren’t fairly well proven, it obviously does the parents a world of good.

as you can see, he was a very happy boy after it was all done – all smiles and making cutesy eyes at kris.

day 16: all the better to smell you with?

unfortunately, the CPAP mask is doing funny things to his nostrils and making them look upturned and gigantic.

nurse jan promises that they won’t stick that way.

the eric update – day 8: the perfect moment

day 8: getting prepped for being held by mama

what can i say? the kid enjoys defying the odds and exceeding expectations. last night he had his umbilical arterial (UA) line removed and they thought they might remove his umbilical venous (UV) line if he looked good over the night. they only remove these lines when he’s begun to stabilize enough that he doesn’t require extremely precise measurements of blood gasses, so it’s one more sign that he’s doing fantastic.

they thought perhaps they’d try to put what’s known as a pic intravenous line in a good spot in him, which they’d thread close to his heart. then they’d need to watch and wait and make sure that he faired well after the routine, but still difficult, procedures.

he did so well over the night with all the changes that we were very pleasantly surprised to find the nurse asking us if we’d like to hold him when we arrived at the nicu! they had been telling us that it could be weeks before we could hold him, so you can imagine the range of emotions we felt in an extremely short time period.

first things first. he needs needs lots of swaddling to prevent his temperature from dropping when he’s taken out from under the warming lamp above his bed.

day 8: the handoff commences

nurse peggy is deftly moving tubes and lines around so that kris can hold him.

at this point there’s a red light on top of his bed that’s started to spin and make noise and various beeps and flashes on a multitude of monitors are making quite a commotion.

nurse peggy is calm, so i stay calm. sort-of.

day 8: the landing

more commotion and final adjustments, but kris is finally holding eric!

he forgets to breath a few times, but nurse peggy is a pro and “jumpstarts” him by gently rubbing his back, as nurse jan brings some backup caffeine.

day 8: mama settles him down

after all commotion things settle down quickly as kris hums and talks to him.

he makes little funny noises back at her and opens his eyes eventually.

nurse peggy thought he might only be able to be held for a few minutes and kris clearly hogged the handling time by holding him for nearly 15 or 20 minutes.

day 8: pops gets in on the holding action

finally! i get my chance. kris did a great job of settling him down so he’s just being content and making cute noises.

day 8: gentle hands

nurse peggy lets me hold him unswaddled right before he goes back to his bed.

his skin is incredibly soft and smooth; he’s looking right at me, even though his vision is supposed to 20/600, as his eyes aren’t fully developed.

despite all the lights ( not least of which being the bright flash from the camera ) and the noise, he’s remarkably calm – just gazing up at me.

day 8: back to bed

then, back to bed! he has some new linens and a stylish white cloth cap, which along with the CPAP mask make him look like a sci-fi jet pilot from another planet.

day 8: struggling to keep his eyes open

he’s pretty tired after all the activity, but still managed to muster the energy to open his eyes as i hum to him.

i know this might be bordering on the cliche’, but it truly was one of the most sublime and inspiring events of our lives and the pictures don’t even come close to capturing the essence of the experience.