Maddie is a month and two days old today! She was weighed last night and is up to about four pounds, five ounces. She’s gaining about 30-40 grams a day, which is perfect, according to the doctors. She had a minor lung setback. On her right side, there is a small area that isn’t inflating. She had a similar problem on her left side a few weeks ago. That time, she was still on the ventilator, so it was treated differently. This time, the doctors prescribed a few treatments. The first was changing the cannula in her nose from a “low flow” to a “high flow.” That means that she is able to get more oxygen per minute, with the hope that the deflated area will “pop” open. The air from this cannula is humidified, which will be gentler on her lungs. She also had a catheter snaked through her nose into her lungs. That catheter provided suction and was able to get out a lot of mucus plugs that had accumulated in the area of the deflation. Finally, the nurses are using a tiny little vibrating massager on her chest to stimulate that area of her lungs, helping to loosen any mucus that might be sticking to the walls of her lungs. Since these changes were made on Tuesday her lungs are already looking better.
She still isn’t eating. All of her sustenance is coming via IV from something called total parenteral nutrition. She gets her proteins, carbs, vitamins, salts, etc this way. She is having a far more balanced diet than her parents, that’s for sure. Her belly distention is almost totally gone, but the doctors are still being cautious as they don’t want to irritate what has already proven to be very sensitive. I’m very anxious for her to start her feedings as it will be a long process, but at the same time I obviously don’t want them to do anything to hurt her. It’s hard to balance my desire for her to come home with what is best for her – especially since I know being home will be the best for her!!
Yesterday she had her first eye exam. The nurses had warned us that we probably wouldn’t want to be there for it as her eyes would have to be propped open and it looks frightening. The ophthalmologist was pleased with how her eyes looked, which was a relief. Preemies, especially those with prolonged exposure to oxygen like Maddie, often have eye issues. So far she doesn’t, but she will be checked weekly to make sure nothing changes. She was pretty upset during the eye exam, so her nurse took her pacifier and dipped it in sugar water. I guess that made her stop crying instantly as she went to town sucking on the pacifier! She hadn’t tasted anything up to that point so I bet it was pretty awesome for her taste buds.
The best news is that she is finally clear of her infections so she’s off isolation, which means we don’t have to wear gloves and gowns when we visit her! It’s amazing to feel her soft skin again. She responds really well to touch, and now that she can have that skin to skin contact she does even better. I can now hold her with her head resting on my chest so she can hear my heart. The doctors and nurses say this is a great position for her as it’s very therapeutic for both of us.
I started back at work this week. My doctor only cleared me for 25 hours a week since it’s only been four weeks since my surgery. So far I’m doing well with it, although I am very tired. I keep forgetting that my stamina isn’t what it used to be after the bed rest. It’s nice to be back at work with my pals, and it’s a good way to pass the time. The last four weeks feel like four years! At least now I’m being a bit more productive. I usually go to work in the morning, work five hours, then go straight to the hospital. I just have to resist the urge to call and check on Maddie every 20 minutes! The nurses all know I’m back at work, and they have been really great about keeping me informed about her mornings.
Every year there is a big Christmas party at the children’s hospital, and members of the Dodger organization always attend. Before the party, there is a tour of the hospital, and some of the children who are too sick to attend get visits in their rooms. This year Tommy Lasorda and the Dodgers GM Ned Colletti were the “big names” from the Dodgers that did the hospital tour. After they toured the pediatric wing, Tommy came down to the NICU and met some of the doctors and nurses. It was really great that he came by to give the staff a little thrill. He also got a quick peak at Madeline and pronounced her adorable and “no bigger than his hand.”