Friday, January 30, 2009

Stepping Down Early!

We got the big news tonight that Alexandra will be moving into the step down room with the next shift change at the NICU. She still has the feeding tube but is doing pretty well on her bottle feeds (only 10ml, but you have to start somewhere). The step down room seems much calmer than the room she's in now. The doctors basically said that she doesn't need the intensive monitoring that is given in the big room.

Go Lexie!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Eating and Growing

Alexandra is still doing pretty well in her little NICU box. She's off her IV and gets all her nutrition now via formula and breastmilk from my meager supply. Most of it comes via her feeding tube, but she's also started taking a bottle three times a day and usually eats 5-10 ml from it before losing interest. The doctors have been very encouraging about her bottle experiences. She's been steadily gaining weight since losing a few ounces her first week and now weighs more than her birthweight.

We've done a little bit of "Kangaroo Care" (in which the baby is placed skin-to-skin on a parent) and she seemed to really like it -- she usually cries when the nurse takes her away.

The only minor setbacks are some periodic minor "desats" (during which the oxygen saturation of her blood sinks below 88%) -- the doctors say this is totally normal for preemies -- and that she's having a little trouble maintaining her body temperature. The doctors turned down the temp slightly in her isolette to see if she's able to keep herself warm, and it seems like she's having a bit of trouble in that area. Once she can keep herself warm and comes off the feeding tube, she'll be ready to move into a crib in the "step down" room to get ready to come home in maybe four weeks or so.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Update From the NICU

We've been spending a lot of time in the NICU watching over our little girl. Lexie is tiny, but amazingly there are smaller babies in the NICU with her -- much smaller.

The doctors say she is doing great and just needs to gain weight and grow. She's breathing on her own without any trouble. She has a tiny feeding tube that gives her about half her nutrition nowadays and they inch it up a little bit each day, and inch down the IV nutrition.

I'm hoping to post a birth story within a week or so, but the short version is that I started leaking amniotic fluid last Tuesday night. It was spontaneous -- I was just lying in the hospital bed as usual when it all began. Wednesday morning I was contracting regularly and most of the amniotic fluid was gone. Ultimately my doctor determined a C-section was the safest course and things started rolling pretty quickly.

The scariest part of it all was after I was sewn up and my doctor looked over the curtain and confirmed that I did indeed have a unicornuate uterus, adding: "You were lucky to get her to 30 and a half weeks. Your uterus is very small."

I can't believe I'm back home on my couch and we have a little girl sleeping and growing in the NICU. We are so lucky.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Alexandra Has Arrived

Alexandra ("Lexie") was born January 14 at 3:22 p.m., weighing 3 lbs, 11 oz, 16 5/8" long. She's breathing on her own in the NICU and just needs to stop losing weight -- other than that she's doing great.

She was 30 weeks, 5 days gestation, and was delivered via c-section after my water broke the night before. Will post more info soon, but for now I'm off to the NICU again.

Thank you everyone for all the support!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Antisocial Hour

On Thursday, I made use of my 2 hours per week of wheelchair privileges to get rolled down to the weekly social hour/class for the women in my unit. I was excited to leave my room, and looked forward to meeting some women who could directly relate to the hospital bedrest experience.

So I roll in to the lounge, and see about 12 other women already sitting there in silence. I smile and pop out with a general, "Hi!"

No response. Very little eye contact. I try again.

"How's everybody doing?"

Crickets. I feel like a washed-up comic at a shabby Catskills resort. ("Is this thing on?")

I look around and decide, against my better judgment, to try one more time to get people talking. "So how long has everybody been here?"

This question produced a seriously uncomfortable silence. There seemed to be some very negative energy coming from the opposite side of the lounge -- from one woman in particular. I think she was poisoning the whole room's atmosphere. So I directly addressed one woman sitting next to me. "How about you?" She actually answered, and was fairly nice about it. It seemed like many of the women just weren't talking because nobody else was talking. I turned to the woman on the other side of me and asked the same question. She also answered. She'd been here 9 weeks and was going for another 9 with twins. Someone who'd already been here longer -- and would be here longer -- than me!

I was probably hyped up due to the excitement of leaving my room, so I tried the general discussion one more time. "Anybody been here longer than 9 weeks?"

No answer. I wouldn't be surprised if there were four or so women who had been here longer but refused to answer.

Finally daunted, I chatted quietly with my neighbors. (Meanwhile, NOBODY else talked among themselves.) Eventually, the class (on C-sections) ensued. Good information, but no socialization. I could have watched a video alone and gotten the same info. At the end of the class, a basket of giant brownies was passed around. I was one of only two women who weren't allowed to have one (brownies are incompatible with gestational diabetes). That sucked. I have to say, I wasn't sad to roll back to my room.

I'll try again next time. Maybe if I get there earlier and greet each person as they roll in... or maybe I should just go for the stony silence like the rest of them.

Eh, screw 'em. I'm going to talk anyway. Eventually someone will crack.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's All Relative

One of the nurses recently told me that the unit sometimes has prisoners as patients. The prisoners get a private room and are handcuffed to the bed. They each have their own personal guard rotation; the guard sits in the recliner next to the bed and usually monopolizes the TV. Fascinating. I'd made comparisons between the hospital food and prison food, so I asked the nurse: "What do the prisoners think of the food here?"

"They think it's fantastic," she said.

So it's possible I may have been exaggerating the food's awfulness. It's not good, but most of the time it is edible. Occasionally it is tasty (maybe one meal every two weeks). Still, when it's time to eat most of the entrees I often end up talking to myself, trying to psych myself up for the task.
Just eat it. It's not going to kill you.

How bad can it be? Take one bite.

You're 34 years old. You aren't a picky kid anymore. You can eat this. Be a grown up.

It could be much worse. What if you were in a Mexican prison? That would have to be worse.

You're lucky that you even have food in the first place.

The sooner you start to eat it, the sooner you'll be finished and won't have to deal with the food for a few hours.

Just hurry up and swallow it and wash it down with some milk...
The good news is I've managed to get my weight back up and have gained about 4 pounds overall since I checked in more than 7 weeks ago. The contractions have kind of calmed down for the most part, although they still rear their head from time to time. Friday we will be at 30 weeks gestation. If we can get to 34, Baby Girl and I should be golden.

I sometimes feel that we've had really bad luck, especially compared to all the women who sail through their normal pregnancies and end up with a healthy baby every time. My first two pregnancies seemed like worst-case scenarios, ending in the first trimester. But now I understand that some things are much worse than that.

In the past few months, two friends of mine have lost their babies in the second trimester, delivering them too early for the babies to survive more than a couple of hours. I can't imagine how devastating that must be.

I've complained about the food here, and I've complained in general about my "confinement," but we now have a good chance of having a healthy baby.

In that respect, we are very lucky.