Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 5: 18 days old!

My babies are 18 days old!

I am quite proud that I withstood over 3 hours today in “the chair” doing and hour and a half each of kangaroo care with my babies. After this is over I vow never ever to purchase, own, or sit in one of those white plastic lawn chairs ever again.

Vivek is still gaining slowly and is at 1025, which is under his birthweight. Tara is gaining faster, but has more de-sats (about one an hour that is not that bad only to the upper 70’s and usually self corrects) but has GERD. This is essentially reflux, and I expected both to have it since it is fairly common among preemies. I think I’ve only seen Vivek de-sat once. I’m trying not to obsess about weight, but given all other factors that appear stable it is the one significant sign of progress I can focus on.

They are both as adorable as can be, and today are both wearing hats I brought. Of course they had to tape them over themselves to fit, but they’ll grow into them sooner or later. When feeding time comes every two hours they start to coo and throw their arms around and clench their hands, and make darling little sucking motions with their mouths.

The cardiologist only comes once every 30 days to check on them unless needed, and hasn’t been here yet. I asked today if he had been by because I wanted to know if either of them had a small hole in their hearts. This is common for preemies and the hole tends to close on it’s own without a problem. Dr. Kothiala said from what she can see it doesn’t look like they do, but when the cardiologist comes he can confirm that.

Since I’ve been here I’ve collected a variety of opinions on the NICU here. Some are positive, some more negative. My impression so far is positive, but I also have babies that are faring pretty well and I am taking a laid-back and trusting approach to this in order to stay positive and sane. When you walk into the NICU, there is the sense that the forces of fear and faith are at constant war inside your head. To one or the other you must surrender.  My friend who is here is a doctor and speaks some of the language, and I trust her opinion that the care here is comparable to a U.S. NICU even if the facility lacks the poshness of more modern facilities. Ya’ know…posh things like real chairs that don’t inflict pain upon the person sitting in them.  Something about being a parent makes you worry more than you know you should, and all you have to do to find something to worry about is be awake and have your eyes open. I try my best to stay in a relaxed and positive state for the entire time I’m holding them, but that can be hard to do for long stretches of time…especially in the middle of a de-sat.

The power went out today several times at the hotel, and then twice while I was at the NICU. As I expected, the essential machines were all on a uninterruptible power system run by generator backup, and the only reaction by the nurses was to hurriedly reset all the machines when the power came back on.  I did see a nurse run into the other room once today, but I couldn’t decipher why because I didn’t detect any noises beforehand. I am curious, but I do try to mind my own business about other people’s babies for the most part because I’m trying to be a fly on the wall and stay on everyone’s good side. I have only said something a few times to get a nurse to attend to a baby while I did kangaroo care because a baby had thrashed themselves over to the side of the isolette and had a face smashed against the plastic side and an alarm had not gone off yet, or they had twisted their hat around and it was covering their mouth and nose. I had no idea such premature babies could move and shake so much…and with most of them sleeping on an incline because of reflux, gravity plays a supporting role in getting them all discombobulated in their isolettes.

I finally got to video chat with my husband today, and it gave me the huge boost I needed. I wish I had a faster feed because I got a blurry shot of his face every 20 sec or so. My in-laws also called and it was nice to talk to them too. I feel a little less alone now, and as much as I want them to relax and not worry…knowing that my husband and father-in-law are not sleeping so great helps me to know I’m not the only one feeling the emotional upheaval.  It does hit you at a certain point in a situation like this that you have to be the strong one. Everyone is leaning on you for strength and leadership in this tough situation, and you will not be able to lean on them more than they will lean on you. I am strong enough to do this, but I find myself so worn out emotionally that it seems to translate into physical exhaustion as well. Though my husband did point out that trying to stay motionless in “the chair” for 3 hours for my babies does take some physical fortitude.

Once again today I took a ‘nap’ and got my schedule off and neglected to pump. It is frustrating, but at some point I’ll establish a routine of NICU visitation, pumping, sleeping, and the anything else here of life in Anand.

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