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the eric update - day 42: two birthdays!

it's eric's and and kris' birthday today! we all know eric turned 6 weeks old today, but i'll leave it up to kris to decide whether or not to reveal her age. grandma and grandpa snowdeal came into town just to take us out to lunch; and we celebrated a quiet birthday in the evening with some of her family. it's hard to put much mental energy into really celebrating outside the nicu, but that didn't stop me from eating more than my fair shair of cake.

the nurses all knew it was kris' birthday and decided to give her an extra special present by letting her wash him. as you can imagine, it's a little difficult to give him a good scrubbing while trying to not extubate him, but kris did a great job.

eric is continuing to really pack on the weight. he weighed in at 1240 grams or just under 2 pounds 12 ounces. he looks a little puffy from water retension related to the intravenous drip, but i think a lot of his recent gains are real thing. amazingly, he just needs to gain 2 more ounces to have doubled his birth weight! over the past few days, nurses that haven't seen him for a few days have been commenting how much different he's been looking as he fills out and today was the first day that i really could see what they were talking about. ( as i'm writing this, a nurse walks by and exclaims, "ohmygosh! he's big! oh my!" i swear that she doesn't know what i'm writing at the same moment ).

during his bath, kris cleaned his hair and we both noticed that it was long enough to get "mussed" up and it stayed that way, as if it might be wavy. so august 15, 2004 was the first day and probably not the last day, if he's anything like his pops, that eric's hair was messy.

kris was also able to sneak in another brief bit of holding by picking him up while the nurse changed his bedding around. after a week of no holding or kangaroo care, these brief interactions which were made possible by an incredibly thoughtful nurse, made kris' birthday quite special. all the nurses are great, but some of them are much more attentive and thoughtful and have not forgotten that any contact, however brief, is magical.

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8/15/2004 11:50:00 PM 10 comments


Happy Birthday to Kris and Eric IV, now 6 weeks old! He IS getting big. Nana and I were noticing this week that his looks are changing rapidly. What a big accomplishment to nearly double his birth weight already. He is doing what his Dad did best after birth - gaining weight as though he doesn't know he's premature. Eric IV is nearly at his Dad's birth weight of 2 pounds 13 oz. How long is he now? We are all saying prayers for Eric IV's continued strong recovery. Glad you were able to celebrate Kris' birthday - and still had time for a birthday bath. Monica is coming to Maine today. We are all thinking of the three of you constantly. Love, Mom

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:15 AM  

I remember those discouraging days when Ricky (my ex-premie!) was in the NICU. Good news, bad news, better news, worse news, etc... Different from minute to minute and hour to hour. I think it's great that you guys have been able to see the good among the bad and take delight in the little things (which seem like big things when you have a tiny little baby in the hospital) like holding him, even for a few seconds; and giving him a bath.

I remember when we got Ricky home all any of us wanted to do was just sit and hold him, because there were all those weeks when we couldn't do it at all. I'm sure you can relate.

Hope that sepsis and the PDA clear up soon. All that weight gain has got to be a good sign of him fighting the infection and getting stronger.

Happy birthday to Kris too. :)

By Blogger Unknown, at 4:45 PM  

Happy Birthday Kris and E4!


By Blogger Rudy, at 8:18 PM  

Happy birthday to you both!
You are so right, E4 is looking bigger by the day.
Keep growing!


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:27 PM  

Happy birthday to Kris & E4 :)

I was so glad to see that they let Mommy hold him. You should see about getting the K-Care/Vent rule revised. Loyola allows the mothers to hold the babies on the vent as long as they are over 2lbs (some exceptions are made for smaller babies).

Great news on the weight gain front... Keep it up big boy :)

After all the enjoyment I've had reading your posts on E4, I finally decided to do what I should have all along, and started a Blog for Kyle... And WOW is it missing the details! You'll have a wonderful record to share with your beautiful son some day :)

Here is a link to Kyle's new blog:

PS. How is the sepsis doing, any more news on the extubation front?

By Blogger Katra, at 11:35 PM  

thanks for all the happy birthday thoughts.

katra, i'm so happy that you decided to start writing about what your life is like day-to-day. i was hoping you would give us a better view of what life is like after you get out of the nicu. and it's an amazing story as well.

i love the picture kyle smiling.

definately on my daily reading list, which is pretty short these days.

no definitive word on the sepsis - as i wrote yesterday, they apparently didn't have enough in the sample that was supposed to be for the yeast test to make a positive identification and they haven't found any more in his blood. so is it gone? or just hiding out while he's on the antibiotics? i guess we'll only know for sure after they finish his current course.

eric is essentially on the lowest vent settings possible, so my guess is that it probably won't be too much longer before they extubate him. they're still pulling a lot of mucous out of his lungs and i think they're keeping him on the vent, in part, to give him a break while they pulling the mucous out. whever they suction his lungs they're obviously pulling all the air out too which makes it a little difficult for him to breath normally :-) we'll have more results on the trach aspirates today and i think that'll help sway the decision as to exactly when they extubate him.

b.t.w. i noticed you're in west chicago. i still get to the west suburbs on occasion to make contact with the mothership. here's to hoping that someday we can meet at ikea for swedish meatballs, oxygen tanks in tow or not :-)

By Blogger e3, at 1:15 PM  

i'll follow up with the staff tonight about why loyola might have a less restrictive kangaroo care/holding vent policy.

i think it might be related to the fact that it's a small nicu and when the neonatologist isn't around, the nurse practitioner is the only qualified person to to the intubation and they probably don't want to tie up her ( yes, there are no "he" nurse pracitioners, for reasons that might not be so obvious ) time with having to be constantly vigilent, particularly when the nicu is as packed as it is now. maybe one or two vented babies isn't a problem, but the "overhead" of having 6 or 7 vented kids doing the 'roo might be too much?

it'd be interesting to know how many people were qualified to do the intubation at loyola during a given shift.

By Blogger e3, at 1:35 PM  

There where, at minimum, 2 residents, 1 fellow, and Neo. NNP's where usually only there until 9PM. But they staffed 100 Neo Nurses (50 beds - all open room - aka The Borg Ship)!

Our first hospital was different (St. John's in Springfield, IL). They had 2 Neo practices, we had SIU Physicians, which consisted of 3 NEO's. There was always at least one on staff. 3NPP's, usually one on staff, but not always, and 50 nurses (48 beds, more efficient coverage, set up in pods of 6-8 beds/room).

St. John's was by far the nicest facility, and utilized it's nursing staff more efficiently. However Loyola had the best doctors and specialists.

By Blogger Katra, at 9:34 AM  

st. mary's nicu is small with only 15 beds total, but they don't have them split into pods, so it can sometimes be noisier than a bigger nicu which has a large number of beds split into separate rooms.

in our nicu there's a neonatal nurse practitioner on the floor all day on a 24 hour shift. there are also about 11-12 nurses who specialize in neonatal care on the floor, who work 12 hour shifts. typically a nurse will have eric for three continuous 12 hour shifts, which is a great way to ensure that they can quickly catch really subtle changes in his appearance.

regarding my little theory about extubation and 'roo care, we prodded one of the nurses a bit today and didn't get to far. she just smiled and said that the neonatologist knew that other places allowed it, "but you'd have a hard time convincing him that it was a good idea."

one can imagine when neonatologists get together for beers that they argue endlessly about the merits of 'roo care while being intubated.

i might ask an npp today and see if i get a different answer.

By Blogger e3, at 10:02 AM  

When Kyle's PICC line was infultrated (still at St. John's), and landed back on the vent (after finally making it to canula) - I was devastated that I couldn't hold him. After all, we had been holding him for a few weeks by this time. So, I (having nerves of steel, and that "Attitude" that doesn't often give people the chance to question me) TOLD the nurse - "I am holding my baby today, call the dr and let him know". I said it very matter-of-factly - so she knew how serious I was. She got on the phone with him, and said - I'm not going to be able to stop her, so can I get your approval to help her.

And that was that. Sometimes, you just have to make them understand that this is important not just to you, but for the baby - there shouldn't be interruptions in the bonding process once it has begun.

Fortunatly, as I mentioned, it wasn't a problem at Loyola - so when he was reintubated there, I got to hold him every day for hours at a time.

Good Luck - I can tell you, it did make a difference in Kyle - as always, he would perk up and start getting better after we held him.

PS. They would SUPER tape the ET to my shoulder during K-Care, or to the boppy if I swaddled him... This limited the risk of extubation.

By Blogger Katra, at 12:37 PM  

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