Here's the focus of daily life for us right now... our little area in NICU. I didn't end up getting to hold Katie last night because of a small setback, though I did get to touch her. She'd had some retractions, where she was sucking in really deeply to try to breathe and they ended up bumping up her O2 levels to 30% again. They also decided to administer viagra.
A night's worth of treatment worked wonders (as any old man would agree, I'm sure!) and this AM's chest xray and electrocardiogram revealed that the "tension levels" of her veins had relaxed down to 32 (remember we're shooting for mid-20's.) So that gave us quite a bit of hope, but the nurses were still talking about not even starting her in a crib or removing her from O2 until this weekend. The pictures you see here are from around noon, when we both got to hold her for a few minutes. The blue tube you see is the O2 tube that's normally plugged into her hood. The thin tube to her mouth is the OG tube that extends down into her stomach and allows gasses to flow freely out without disturbing her. The pink blob is her hand, swathed in bandages to hold an IV in place.
The day got even gloomier when we discovered it wouldn't be possible for me to stay in the hospital any longer. I was to be discharged in late afternoon, at which point we'd have to say goodbye to Katie and drive an hour home with heavy hearts. While I know she's in great hands, I just hated the thought of being so far away. I did pretty well until I really started thinking about that goodbye and then I just lost it. Not long after, the attending neonatologist stopped in and made the surprising announcement that he had decided to put her in a crib and they'd removed the O2 hood and she was now breathing with the assistance of just a small O2 line under the nose!
They've removed the OG tube from her stomach, and best of all, the Doc said we could begin nursing attempts after the shift change at 4! WOW! What a rollercoaster ride! We'll see how well she tolerates this new change. While I was there after 4, we did see some "singing" (imagine sweet little baby grunts to try to open the aveoli in her lungs) but cross your fingers that it's a temporary thing.
Our nursing session was totally unsuccessful. She has a lot of interest in sucking, and takes the breast well, but doesn't seem to remember what to do with it once she has it. Apparently it hasn't occurred to her to clamp down, and she spends her time getting frustrated with what the heck she's supposed to do. She's happy to suck on my knuckle, and sometimes will take a pacifier, but seems baffled by a boob.
I'm hoping for some advice from a lactation consultant soon. In any case, I got to hold her for almost 2 glorious hours. She's now dressed in a sleeper and wrapped up like a baby burrito in a blanket. I'll go back in at midnight tonight to give it another shot. Incidentally, I'm not officially IN the hospital anymore, but instead was discharged at about 6pm. However, due to the desire to breastfeed, they have graciously allowed me to stay overnight in my old room on my own, assuming they don't fill up and need it. I suppose I could be kicked out at four am... but it seems pretty quiet around these parts and I see a good 5 or 6 rooms open at the moment. Tell the pregnant mamas of western SD to stay gestating!