Eaters and Breathers
Owen is huge. He has gained 7 ounces above his birth weight (he now weighs 2 lb 12 oz, up from a birth weight of 2 lb 5 oz), and he has a double chin. He is now eating 23 CC's of breast milk every 3 hours. Poor little Chloe is only eating 2 CC's at every feeding. Both kids are gaining weight, though. Chloe is up to 2 lb 1 oz (up from 1 lb 14 oz), so she may be little, but she's working hard to catch up.
Chloe is COMPLETELY OFF OF HER VERTILATORS. For the first time, she's breathing 100% on her own. She just has a little tube underneath her nose (a Nasal Cannula) that gives her some oxygen, so that the air she breathes has a greater percentage of oxygen in it (our atmosphere only contains 21% oxygen). Right now, it's set to give her about 40% oxygen. Owen is also making good respiratory progress. He's currently hooked up to something called a Nasal CPAP, which stands for Constant Pulminary Airway Pressure. Essentially, it's a little gizmo that fits over his nose and blows an air/oxygen mix into his airway. Having a Nasal CPAP shows significant progress (compared with having a ventilator) because there is no tube going into his lungs. The next step, after he's been on the nasal CPAP for a little while, is to get a nasal cannula like his sister.
Both kids have pneumonia. They're each getting a mixture of 2 or 3 antibiotics, and they seem to be doing well. Owen's chest x-ray was still a little bit cloudy today, but it's improved from yesterday's x-ray, so that's good.
With their newfound respiratory freedom, both kids can now cry. Well...sort of. Chloe makes the saddest litle whining/gasping sound when she tries to cry. It's adorable. I haven't heard Owen cry, but Julie says that he cries just like a regular kid (but very quietly).
One of Chloe's favorite things is to be swaddled in a blanket. Even though her incubator keeps her at a nice warm temperature, she likes to be wrapped up tight in a fuzzy, cuddly blanket. Just like her mom.
We got a great email from some friends of Troy and Britt (Julie's brother and sister-in-law) this week. It was a very nice reassurance to us, and we though that the rest of you might like to hear it too, so here it is:
Dear Julie and Benji,
Congratulations on the birth of your children and welcome to the roller coaster of NICU. My husband Dan and I are friends of Troy and Britt and my preemie twins are about to turn 9 in Jan. They are friends with McKenna. When Britt told me about your babies, it brought back MANY memories, some good, some bad, and some very scary. Travis and Sarah were born at 26.6 weeks. Travis weighed 2 lb, 1 oz, and Sarah was 1lb, 14 oz, so it sounds similar to Owen and Chloe. It seemed just as we were getting used to one problem and feeling encouraged, the bottom would drop out and one or both babies would be in crisis...not satting well, not able to handle feedings, needing blood, infections, kidney failure, brain bleeds, eye problems, apnea... like I said a lot of memories. I wish some one could give you a view into the future, one year... two... now nine for us. It could take away some of your worry... Sarah had a grade 3 brain bleed and the doctors and nurses were discouraging, to say the least. I am happy to report there is NO evidence of the bleed today. She is not only a normal 3rd grader, but excels at school! Travis was the sickest of the two and if only I could have known that by third grade he would be CHUNKY! I have to buy HUSKY pants for him and he weighs 100 pounds! How did that happen? He is also in the gifted class in school. We really have two miracle babies. You'll be here, too, although it may seem like an eternity.
I am so glad to hear you are pumping, Julie. The pump became my best friend. At least it made me feel like I was contributing something vital to the babies, especially since they missed the third trimester of immunity. In a few weeks, you won't believe the amount of milk in the freezer. You can never have too much. You WILL use it!
Travis and Sarah were our first children and we practically lived at the hospital. Some things we found helpful were:
-leaving an answering machine update, like,Travis and Sarah are continuing to grow, but will be in the hospital for a long time. We are trying to lower the need for extra oxygen. Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers. Then we never felt the pressure to call the message leavers back.
-each evening Dan and I made one positive note on a calendar. Some times it was HARD to find one. For example. Sarah satted at 98 today for a few minutes. Or, Travis took 8ML of gavage breast milk. Then when some days seemed so depressing, we could read back to where we had come from in the previous week. It left a trail of improvement.
-Take a picture each week with each baby and a small stuffed animal. We used a little Peter Rabbit. It gauged the size and growth. Sarah and Travis were the same size as the bunny at first, by the time they went home, 3 months later, the bunny was the size of their torso! I continued taking the picture with the bunny each month after they came home, and on their birthdays after that! The bunny is the size of their foot now!
-I'm sure you've done the picture of Benji's wedding ring as a bracelet for the babies. Travis and Sarah LOVE that picture now.
If you feel like emailing or calling I'd be happy to share some more experiences. I'm available whenever you might need some encouraging. I've included an attachment of T and S now (with their full term sister I had 2 years later!). Sarah is on the left.
God Bless You and Your Family,
A BIG BIG BIG THANK YOU TO THE CHEEK FAMILY
Anyhow, that's all I've got for now.