Sunday, October 11, 2009

Keegan's Stay in the NICU

Because our little guy was born at 34 weeks 2 days, he was whisked away to the NICU shortly after birth. The NICU is a very interesting place. Not only are there babies there that need just a "little" help now that they are on the outside, there are some babies that need LOTS of help because they were born VERY early. Thankfully we were in the first category! Keegan's stay was relatively uneventful minus a couple of the problems we are dealing with (but I will go into that later).

When he was born he was assigned at doctor in the NICU, her name was Dr. Hilmo and out of the 3 doctors that watch over the NICU she is by far (in our opinion) the best. Like I posted in a previous entry, Dr. Hilmo came into my recovery room shortly after birth to let us know that Keegan was doing okay but he did has some extra fingers and an extra toe, she also advised that he would most likely have to stay in the NICU until he was right around 36 week Gestational Age (2 weeks from his date of birth). In the back of our minds we thought he would be home much sooner because although he was early there really weren't any major problems. He was breathing on his own, he could regulate his own temperature, and he wasn't hooked up to a bunch of fancy machines. Little did we know we were wrong.

So he was born on Wednesday the 23rd and by the time I was released on the 27th of September they were not ready to release him yet and really gave no indication as to when they would allow him to go home. The thought of leaving our new born baby in the NICU while we went home to try to continue life as usual until he was ready to come home was very hard on both of us. I cried quite a bit that Sunday afternoon until the idea was presented to us to stay in a "parent room". These are rooms that the hospital offers to parents of NICU babies so they can stay closer to their child(ren). We took them up on this opportunity because neither one of us could fathom leaving him there.

That night Ry and I got up at midnight to go down the hall to NICU to feed Keegan (that was really tiring). It felt really good to be able to provide some sort of care for our son even though he was Stuck here. The next day we got up and started our normal routine (or what would be normal for us the next week or so). We would mosey to the NICU around 11:30 am or so to be ready to go for Keegan's 12 o'clock feeding. We would stay and hang out till after his 3 o'clock feeding. We would then head home, after we made the decision on Monday afternoon to go back home and sleep in our actual bed and be with our animals. Then we would head back to the hospital for his 9 pm feeding and we would squeeze in some cuddle/kangaroo time with mommy or daddy. This would put us home between 10 and 10:30 pm and we would pass out in the comfort of our bed only to wake up and do it all over again the next morning. Oh, by the way, I would squeeze pumping in sometime during the day whether it was at home a couple of times or use the pumps that the hospital provided in the NICU. This got very tiring but was well worth it when we got to see and hold our little guy.

Every morning when we got up, we would either get a phone call from one of the NICU doctors or they would update us when we got in the nursery. Most days it was just updating us once we got into the nursery. The first couple of days it was Dr. Hilmo that would update us and talk about his prognosis. After those first couple of days Dr. Maybalene, another doctor in the NICU, would provide us, or try to, info on how our baby was progressing.

During the first few days, lots of tests were run and his blood was drawn quite a bit. Keegan went through quite an ordeal. There were CT's, MRI's, EEG's, X-Rays and Genetic Tests. The only real info we gained from any of these very expensive tests is that Keegan has a larger than normal head as well as his brain is fairly large. There was/is some blood between his skull and his skin as well as some more blood between his skull and brain. He has an extra finger on each hand, although I use the word finger very loosely. It really isn't an extra finger as it is a skin tag with a tiny piece of a finger w/ a finger nail. He also has the same thing on his foot attached to his baby toe. None of the doctors could really ever give us answers and to what they were looking for or what they have found. This got to be very frustrating and still is.

The nurses in the NICU were great. They let you provide whatever care you feel comfortable providing your little one. We jumped in right away and started his sponge baths every other night, taking his temperature at every feeding, changing his diaper and giving him his feeding-when it didn't have to be tube fed. This was very reassuring and help the transition between hospital and home.

As we began to near his 36 week Gestational age, we got really nervous because no one had mentioned yet the time frame when we would be able to take our son home. We watched as lots of the babies around us got to go home in the loving arms of their parents but we just watched and prayed every night that our turn would come soon. On Saturday the 3rd of October, during our normal morning update with a doctor, they told us that if Keegan kept eating good (taking all of his 70 cc bottle of breast milk/infamies) then we would be able to take him home on Tuesday. So that afternoon they did his car seat test and hearing test. The car seat test is where the sit him in a car seat with all his leads still attached and monitor him for 1 hour. They have to make sure his breathing and heart rate would not be compromised. He also had his hearing test, which he passed with flying colors! He had been doing really well with his feeding and then by Saturday night, as if he was trying to tell us he was not ready to leave the NICU, he had to be tube fed 3 times! I got so upset and would not let myself believe we would actually we taking him home on Tuesday the 6th. After Saturday though he never had to be fed via the tube and it was actually removed on Monday. I still was a nervous wreck thinking they would find some way to keep him for some reason.

When Tuesday the 6th of October rolled around, I was so nervous getting ready at home that I thought I was going to be sick. I didn't eat breakfast and I think I took 3 trips to the bathroom before we were ready to leave to go to the hospital. When we got to the NICU we found out he had taken all of his bottles and they were working on his discharge orders. We watched the Infant CPR video, changed our little guy into his "coming home outfit", and put him in his carrier. They loaded us up with Infamil, bottles and nipples and we were off!

It was an odd feeling walking out of the NICU with our baby. I guess we were in shock that our day had finally come and our Keegan was coming home with us!


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