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the eric update - day 17: YABPTMAKC

yes. it's Yet Another Boring Post That's Mostly About Kangaroo Care.

today when we arrived i happened to catch him getting a transfusion. there's nothing out of the ordinary about this transfustion. he's had 7 of them so far, which is to be expected. he gets 7 cc's of blood with each transfusion. obviously he'll get increasingly larger transfusions as he gets bigger. he doesn't seem to mind them too much, although after he got this one he started to cry and there didn't seem to be anything we could do to settle him down.

his jaudice is getting better without any phototherapy. his bilirubin levels have dropped under 4 and went from 3.7 to 3.4 in just the past 24 hours. so his liver is getting better at processing the toxic byproducts of dying red blood cells. interestingly, a nurse told me that they aren't really sure precisely why phototherapy helps to break down the billirubin, but back in the 70's they noticed that the babies that were close to the windows in the nicu did better than those that were not.

apparently, i stand corrected about kangaroo care and its adoption in the states. kangaroo care is "becoming" standard practice in america, but it's not as fully adopted as in europe, where it's not uncommon to have separate rooms with beds to encourage parents to stay 24 hours. i had commented yesterday that i was surprised that there were prominent nicus in the u.s. that didn't advocate kangaroo care, but that was based on old information ( from a book that was only a couple of years old, so you can get and idea of how quickly it's being adopted ), according to nurse jan ( whose hands star in part two of 'the fourth' and whom we think eric enjoys immensely ). in fact, the other nicu in town is going to be building a new facility and rumour has it that they will be adopting the european practice of having sleeping areas for parents to encourage them to stay for as long as possible.

sadly, from what we've seen, it might not be appreciated by as many nicu parents as you might think. this might come out all wrong and i might just regret saying it and i'm not trying to cast any dispersions or make any judgements, but we've been stunned at how few visitors come to see the other babies. the nurses have commented that it's not that unusual and that it's very difficult for them to see how little time your average nicu parent will spend with their children. i think we see people visit for see average of a half and hour a day. period. including on the weekends. and nights. again, i know this is going to sound like i'm saying "ooooohhh, we're sooooooo great and you're not. neeener. neeener" and i'm not trolling for "you're such fantabulous parents" comments; and i certainly understand that people react to the trauma of being in the nicu fishbowl differently, but it's honestly shocking when you think about the fact that most of the kangaroo care studies recommend at least two hours per day. and those crazy europeans want you to sit around all day.

i guess i'm honestly wondering what the other nicu parents are going through. i'm sure there's a nicu family counselor out there that could shed some light on the many varied ways that families react. [ update: see this thoughtful response for many rational reasons as to why nicu parents might not be around as often as one might think. given what i've seen i supsect i might not be being as sensitive to the 'distance' ( we live a mere 4 blocks from the nicu ) and the 'other responsibilities' ( i guess those other responsibilities don't go away on the nights and weekends ) issues. ]

oh. and he's on 2.5 cc's of milk per hour! and he's producing poops on a regular basis! well, he still needs a very tiny suppository to keep things regular, but he's pooping nonetheless.

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7/21/2004 11:17:00 PM 5 comments


First, let me commend you on this site and the loving way you're capturing every moment of life in the NICU. This is never an easy time and the frustration, disappointment, anticipation, faith, and love you feel are all magnified as if you were that tiny being looking up at the enormous beings hovering over you - so much larger than you, the infant, are.

Second, I read the message board over at and agree with what Jennifer said. Are there a host of factors that keep parents away from their child? Yes. And they are as varied as the people they involve.

Even in the most difficult and tragic of circumstances, as nurses, in those cases, we focus on the babies. We can't allow ourselves to sit in judgment of the parents or their situations. But let me tell you, when we get families like you - devoted and attentive - we see the difference. The babies respond differently to their many therapies. Your touch alone seems to infuse a special energy that works its magic on their little bodies - even if that magic means permission to let go.

Your beautiful tribute to your son is heartwarming and full of love. Thank you for your courage in putting this out there for others to see. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers....especially your little boy. May he continue to gain strength each day!

By Blogger Da Goddess, at 5:05 AM  

Wow 2.5 ccs an hour! That's nearly double hasn't it? By thw way, how many cc's are in an ounce? I am terrible with measurments of stuff. Well, I'm glad he is doing well, and I do know how it feels to see those other babies in the NICU alone with no one visiting them. It is too bad they don't have a volunteer kangaroo care program.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:24 AM  

heya - i said i wasn't trolling for praise, but thanks for including it in your great comments, DaGoddess.

i gather you're a nicu nurse. i've said it before and i'll say it again - you all are cut from a different cloth. i don't have any idea how you do what you do day in and day out.

candy - if i've dont my math correctly ( or rather if google has done the math correctly ) there are about 29.574 cc's in an ounce. give or take a bit.

By Blogger e3, at 9:20 AM  

Thank you to DaGoddess for your insight. All of the family (close and at a distance) are so grateful for - and inspired by - the attentive care of the NICU nurses. As a scientist, I can appreciate the years of research that have led to the ability to keep these babies alive. And, I am in awe of the brave nurses that skillfully use the technology and techniques to save these tiny lives. What a huge responsibility. The love and care of these babies is in your hands for most of the day and night. Eric and Kris are blessed that they can weather the emotional challenges - and be by Eric IV's side for hours each day. I am so glad to see that science finally knows that loving touch works wonders. It's easy to see from the beautiful smile on Eric IV's yesterday that he is responding to his mothers voice and time on Dad's chest. That boy knows that he is LOVED so much by his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and concerned readers of this site around the world. I can imagine that many parents of premies sadly cannot deal with the trauma of an early birth - and a fragile child whose fate is unknown. And, many parents must work long hours and live too far to come often or for long. When Eric III was born, his Dad and I were not able to see him very often. His Dad worked an hour away five days a week. And I was hospitalized nearly as long as Eric III due to severe complications from an amniotic embolism and DIC. Being away from your newborn baby - is similar to losing a part of you before you were ready. There is a special kind of yearning and heartache that cannot be satisfied until we can hold the baby - and one day take him home. I believe that Eric - as a premire himself - unconsciously "remembers" how it felt to leave his Mom too soon. And, he and Kris both know that their time, love, prayers will make a difference in Eric IV's life now and later. I am grateful to hear that my grandson can enjoy loving touch and soft words of love. In 1972, we were not allowed to do this with his Dad. But, all will come full circle. The gratitude of his family to the NICU nurses for all their loving care cannot be expressed with words. You must know that your loving hands are saving tiny lives. Love to Eric, Kris and Eric IV - and to all the babies in the NICU.
From Eric III's Mom, Sherry

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:29 AM  

I'm not a NICU nurse, but I am a peds nurse who often cares for these kids after they're deemed "almost ready" to go home.

My son was in NICU for a few days after his arrival and I have nothing but high praise for the staff who cared for him during that time.

NICU nurses have one of the most challenging jobs on earth. I've often considered working in our NICU...but I'm just not ready...It still hits a little too close for comfort.

By Blogger Da Goddess, at 9:03 AM  

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