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Archive for the ‘in the NICU’ Category

homecoming plans

Every day the plans change on who is coming home when and I haven’t had time to keep updating my blog with what the latest plans are. But today our little man was SUPPOSED to come home. However, he’s going to come home tomorrow, thanks to a tiny little bradycardia that he had while I was there.

The cool news is that he’ll probably be coming home tomorrow with both of his sisters! Ellie will be coming home on a monitor because she’s our little diva, but we’re happy to have them all coming home together. No complaints here.

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homecoming plans

Every day the plans change on who is coming home when and I haven't had time to keep updating my blog with what the latest plans are. But today our little man was SUPPOSED to come home. However, he's going to come home tomorrow, thanks to a tiny little bradycardia that he had while I was there.

The cool news is that he'll probably be coming home tomorrow with both of his sisters! Ellie will be coming home on a monitor because she's our little diva, but we're happy to have them all coming home together. No complaints here.

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Lots Happening

I haven’t posted in a bit and it’s largely because my life consists of mooing, sleeping, mooing, taking J to school, mooing, laundry, mooing, visiting the NICU, mooing, Jewish holiday, mooing, dishes, mooing, back to NICU, more mooing, eating, mooing, thinking about a shower, mooing, sleeping, mooing, calling the NICU to check on the kiddos, mooing…

Right.

All the kiddos are still in the NICU. I’m still pumping. A lot. They are all nursing twice a day when I’m there, but that doesn’t get me off the moo duty, of course. Today I pumped 46 ounces of milk, which isn’t nearly enough to make any significant amount of cheese, but is enough to feed 17 day old triplets. Except Ellie keeps eating MORE! Pressure! How will I ever keep up?? They are all getting bigger, which is a relief.

Ellie and our little guy are doing well. They are both out of their isolettes and have had their feeding tubes removed. They still are having too many bradys to come home, but they are making progress. I expect them to be home probably early-to-mid-week unless something unexpected happens.

Abby is a slightly different story. On Tuesday her hematocrit dropped to 22 (it should be in the low-to-mid 30’s). The doctors were alarmed, but not completely freaked out. Our bodies SHOULD theoretically make more blood when they figure out that we are low on blood and they had ruled out a brain hemorrhage already with the routine head ultrasound they had coincidentally done that morning anyway (the most obvious and also most horrifying explanation for the drop in the hematocrit). Some mention was made of the vague possibility of maybe someday considering a possible transfusion if it didn’t resolve itself, but it was all very blurry and seemed unlikely. S and I and the triplets are all O-positive, but I can’t be a directed donor right now because I just had a baby (three, even!). And anyway, it seemed unlikely to be necessary. After all, it could have just been a blip. Since she wasn’t symptomatic, they’d treat her with vitamins and iron and hope it resolved itself.

The next day, however, the nurse practitioner told me that the doctor wanted to have S tested as a directed donor if he was willing. He needed to be tested for CMV antibodies. Most of us walk around CMV positive, which isn’t a big deal, but they don’t give CMV+ blood to babies. So she wrote a script for S to get tested. By the time she wrote that script, though, the lab was closed, so S came in with me to the hospital on Thursday to get the lab to draw the tests he needed. There still seemed to be no great sense of urgency on anyone’s part, but everyone wanted to make sure our bases were covered should the need arise. Meanwhile, our little Abby-saurus was looking paler than ever.

Friday I went in for the babies’ 11am feeding, as usual, and met with the nurse practitioner. Abby’s hematocrit had dropped again, to 17. This was too low, and they didn’t feel that they could wait for the results from S’s CMV screening. At best, they would get the result back Saturday. Odds were not in his favor that he’d be CMV negative anyway, and even if he were, it would take 5-7 days to process his blood before it could be given to her. That was too long to wait with a level that low. The best option was to use an anonymous donor. There are risks with anonymous donors, of course. There are risks with directed donors, for sure, but you theoretically have a better handle on those odds. The NP ran through the numbers on the risks and I listened with half an ear as I usually do on such things, and she got me the consent to sign. And I went to read it.

And I stood there, pen in hand, trying to sign that piece of paper without crying.

Yesterday was Simchas Torah. It’s a beautiful holiday on the Jewish calendar. A day on which I should have been in the synagogue watching my wonderful husband an beautiful son dance joyfully with the Torah. Instead, I joyfully went off to spend the morning with my three angels in the NICU, never expecting to be standing there trying to sign a consent for a blood transfusion for my tiny Abby. Worse, this was a choice I had to make on my own. I couldn’t have reached Seth if I’d wanted to. He was in the synagogue. I had no way of reaching him. He had no phone, no pager, and even if he did, he wouldn’t have been answering them because of the holiday. I couldn’t call my rabbi, for he, too, was celebrating the day. There was no one I could reach who could get my husband quickly enough to get him to weigh in on this one. So I stood next to Abby’s isolette reading this consent which said I understood that 1 in 600,000 anonymous blood donors may be HIV positive, even though the blood IS screened for it, and likewise that 1 in 66,000 may be hepatitis positive. Those are tiny, miniscule odds. Those are odds I scoff at when signing consents for myself. I wouldn’t have thought twice about those numbers if it were my own blood transfusion. I didn’t think twice about them as the NP was rattling them off verbally. But standing next to my tiny 3 pound baby (she’s over three pounds now!) holding a pen on a day that I normally wouldn’t have been signing anything… those numbers sounded huge. I was consenting to 30ml of blood… 6 teaspoons!… that could possibly be HIV or hepatitis positive to be transfused into my tiny, helpless baby’s body. And it was all on me, since I couldn’t get S to weigh in on that one.

Obviously I signed the consent. Because the consent also said that I understood that failure to agree to the transfusion could result in death. And well, if there’s one thing we Jews understand, it’s a good guilt trip. And honestly, there wasn’t any way around it. Abby was tachycardic. She was having a lot of bradycardias also. Her monitors were going off left and right. She was deathly pale. My normally alert daughter was barely opening her eyes that morning. So much for not being symptomatic.

Once I signed the consent, the nurse got two IVs in. One for the blood and one for IV fluids, because they were going to hold her feedings for the transfusion. The transfusion would be done in two, two-hour sessions with a four-hour break in between. (the four-hour break turned out to be much longer, because it took the blood bank a while to get the second batch of blood up to the NICU) I couldn’t stay at the hospital for the transfusion, because S didn’t know what was going on and I needed to get home. Plus, being at the NICU while it was going on wasn’t going to help anyone. The nurses and NP all said it would be better that she simply rest and that I go home. So that’s what I did. And by Saturday morning when I saw her again, she was pinker and happier and more alert and her heartrate was down into the 150s, right where it should be. She was a much happier camper, as was I. That’s my girl.

It’s not lost on me that last Simchas Torah I was suffering complications from a late miscarriage, and this Simchas Torah I was making choices for the betterment of my daughter’s health and well-being. More ironically… the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar don’t line up precisely… so Monday will be even more significant. Last Columbus Day (2006) I had a miscarriage. This Columbus Day (2007), I’ll be having my first of two post-op check ups with my perinatologist following the birth of my triplets. And when that’s finished, I’ll walk to the other end of the hospital to nurse my babies and talk to a doctor about when they can come home.

Edited to Add: I should mention that I called the Red Cross eventually and explained that my husband had been a blood donor for a billion years and was now being asked to be a directed donor for our 2 week old infant in the NICU. Did they by any chance keep records on whether he was CMV+? Why, yes, as a matter of fact, they do. In fact, all I needed to do was provide my home telephone number and the very helpful agent gave me his full name, his blood type, and informed me that he was CMV positive. So he was ineligible as a directed donor for Abby anyway. You don’t give CMV+ blood to babies, so there’s a pretty small donor pool.

Someone asked why they didn’t order the directed donor tests and draw on Tuesday when it first dropped… honestly, a crit of 22 is low, but since she wasn’t symptomatic and her head ultrasound had JUST been done and was negative for hemorrhage, there wasn’t a good reason to believe it wouldn’t come back up. I spoke with a pediatrician friend of mine and she said she wouldn’t have ordered the tests and draw either. Furthermore, the Red Cross wouldn’t have taken the blood without the screening tests first for directed-donor for some reason. I didn’t think to ask them about their record keeping until Friday when it was a moot point anyway.

It does really take 5-7 days to process blood. This is standard for the Red Cross. I’m not sure what they do to it, but it has been like this for a long time. I don’t know the specifics, but I know the Red Cross tests for a wide variety of microbial and viral substances as well as drug contamination, etc. To be honest, my husband works in a hospital which is full of all sorts of germy germs, and this blood was supposed to go into my 3 pound baby… I wouldn’t WANT them to rush that process.

Lastly, regarding my husband wearing a pager to shul… he did wear one to shul when I was in the hospital during Rosh Hashana before I delivered, but we hadn’t really thought he would still need it, since all the babies were doing so well… we had three very healthy babies in the NICU until Friday, even accounting for Tuesday’s low hematocrit. We’ll see how the week goes, and ask about having him carry the pager next Shabbos just in case. It was poor planning on our parts, that’s for sure.

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Lots Happening

I haven't posted in a bit and it's largely because my life consists of mooing, sleeping, mooing, taking J to school, mooing, laundry, mooing, visiting the NICU, mooing, Jewish holiday, mooing, dishes, mooing, back to NICU, more mooing, eating, mooing, thinking about a shower, mooing, sleeping, mooing, calling the NICU to check on the kiddos, mooing…

Right.

All the kiddos are still in the NICU. I'm still pumping. A lot. They are all nursing twice a day when I'm there, but that doesn't get me off the moo duty, of course. Today I pumped 46 ounces of milk, which isn't nearly enough to make any significant amount of cheese, but is enough to feed 17 day old triplets. Except Ellie keeps eating MORE! Pressure! How will I ever keep up?? They are all getting bigger, which is a relief.

Ellie and our little guy are doing well. They are both out of their isolettes and have had their feeding tubes removed. They still are having too many bradys to come home, but they are making progress. I expect them to be home probably early-to-mid-week unless something unexpected happens.

Abby is a slightly different story. On Tuesday her hematocrit dropped to 22 (it should be in the low-to-mid 30's). The doctors were alarmed, but not completely freaked out. Our bodies SHOULD theoretically make more blood when they figure out that we are low on blood and they had ruled out a brain hemorrhage already with the routine head ultrasound they had coincidentally done that morning anyway (the most obvious and also most horrifying explanation for the drop in the hematocrit). Some mention was made of the vague possibility of maybe someday considering a possible transfusion if it didn't resolve itself, but it was all very blurry and seemed unlikely. S and I and the triplets are all O-positive, but I can't be a directed donor right now because I just had a baby (three, even!). And anyway, it seemed unlikely to be necessary. After all, it could have just been a blip. Since she wasn't symptomatic, they'd treat her with vitamins and iron and hope it resolved itself.

The next day, however, the nurse practitioner told me that the doctor wanted to have S tested as a directed donor if he was willing. He needed to be tested for CMV antibodies. Most of us walk around CMV positive, which isn't a big deal, but they don't give CMV+ blood to babies. So she wrote a script for S to get tested. By the time she wrote that script, though, the lab was closed, so S came in with me to the hospital on Thursday to get the lab to draw the tests he needed. There still seemed to be no great sense of urgency on anyone's part, but everyone wanted to make sure our bases were covered should the need arise. Meanwhile, our little Abby-saurus was looking paler than ever.

Friday I went in for the babies' 11am feeding, as usual, and met with the nurse practitioner. Abby's hematocrit had dropped again, to 17. This was too low, and they didn't feel that they could wait for the results from S's CMV screening. At best, they would get the result back Saturday. Odds were not in his favor that he'd be CMV negative anyway, and even if he were, it would take 5-7 days to process his blood before it could be given to her. That was too long to wait with a level that low. The best option was to use an anonymous donor. There are risks with anonymous donors, of course. There are risks with directed donors, for sure, but you theoretically have a better handle on those odds. The NP ran through the numbers on the risks and I listened with half an ear as I usually do on such things, and she got me the consent to sign. And I went to read it.

And I stood there, pen in hand, trying to sign that piece of paper without crying.

Yesterday was Simchas Torah. It's a beautiful holiday on the Jewish calendar. A day on which I should have been in the synagogue watching my wonderful husband an beautiful son dance joyfully with the Torah. Instead, I joyfully went off to spend the morning with my three angels in the NICU, never expecting to be standing there trying to sign a consent for a blood transfusion for my tiny Abby. Worse, this was a choice I had to make on my own. I couldn't have reached Seth if I'd wanted to. He was in the synagogue. I had no way of reaching him. He had no phone, no pager, and even if he did, he wouldn't have been answering them because of the holiday. I couldn't call my rabbi, for he, too, was celebrating the day. There was no one I could reach who could get my husband quickly enough to get him to weigh in on this one. So I stood next to Abby's isolette reading this consent which said I understood that 1 in 600,000 anonymous blood donors may be HIV positive, even though the blood IS screened for it, and likewise that 1 in 66,000 may be hepatitis positive. Those are tiny, miniscule odds. Those are odds I scoff at when signing consents for myself. I wouldn't have thought twice about those numbers if it were my own blood transfusion. I didn't think twice about them as the NP was rattling them off verbally. But standing next to my tiny 3 pound baby (she's over three pounds now!) holding a pen on a day that I normally wouldn't have been signing anything… those numbers sounded huge. I was consenting to 30ml of blood… 6 teaspoons!… that could possibly be HIV or hepatitis positive to be transfused into my tiny, helpless baby's body. And it was all on me, since I couldn't get S to weigh in on that one.

Obviously I signed the consent. Because the consent also said that I understood that failure to agree to the transfusion could result in death. And well, if there's one thing we Jews understand, it's a good guilt trip. And honestly, there wasn't any way around it. Abby was tachycardic. She was having a lot of bradycardias also. Her monitors were going off left and right. She was deathly pale. My normally alert daughter was barely opening her eyes that morning. So much for not being symptomatic.

Once I signed the consent, the nurse got two IVs in. One for the blood and one for IV fluids, because they were going to hold her feedings for the transfusion. The transfusion would be done in two, two-hour sessions with a four-hour break in between. (the four-hour break turned out to be much longer, because it took the blood bank a while to get the second batch of blood up to the NICU) I couldn't stay at the hospital for the transfusion, because S didn't know what was going on and I needed to get home. Plus, being at the NICU while it was going on wasn't going to help anyone. The nurses and NP all said it would be better that she simply rest and that I go home. So that's what I did. And by Saturday morning when I saw her again, she was pinker and happier and more alert and her heartrate was down into the 150s, right where it should be. She was a much happier camper, as was I. That's my girl.

It's not lost on me that last Simchas Torah I was suffering complications from a late miscarriage, and this Simchas Torah I was making choices for the betterment of my daughter's health and well-being. More ironically… the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar don't line up precisely… so Monday will be even more significant. Last Columbus Day (2006) I had a miscarriage. This Columbus Day (2007), I'll be having my first of two post-op check ups with my perinatologist following the birth of my triplets. And when that's finished, I'll walk to the other end of the hospital to nurs
e my babies and talk to a doctor about when they can come home.

Edited to Add: I should mention that I called the Red Cross eventually and explained that my husband had been a blood donor for a billion years and was now being asked to be a directed donor for our 2 week old infant in the NICU. Did they by any chance keep records on whether he was CMV+? Why, yes, as a matter of fact, they do. In fact, all I needed to do was provide my home telephone number and the very helpful agent gave me his full name, his blood type, and informed me that he was CMV positive. So he was ineligible as a directed donor for Abby anyway. You don't give CMV+ blood to babies, so there's a pretty small donor pool.

Someone asked why they didn't order the directed donor tests and draw on Tuesday when it first dropped… honestly, a crit of 22 is low, but since she wasn't symptomatic and her head ultrasound had JUST been done and was negative for hemorrhage, there wasn't a good reason to believe it wouldn't come back up. I spoke with a pediatrician friend of mine and she said she wouldn't have ordered the tests and draw either. Furthermore, the Red Cross wouldn't have taken the blood without the screening tests first for directed-donor for some reason. I didn't think to ask them about their record keeping until Friday when it was a moot point anyway.

It does really take 5-7 days to process blood. This is standard for the Red Cross. I'm not sure what they do to it, but it has been like this for a long time. I don't know the specifics, but I know the Red Cross tests for a wide variety of microbial and viral substances as well as drug contamination, etc. To be honest, my husband works in a hospital which is full of all sorts of germy germs, and this blood was supposed to go into my 3 pound baby… I wouldn't WANT them to rush that process.

Lastly, regarding my husband wearing a pager to shul… he did wear one to shul when I was in the hospital during Rosh Hashana before I delivered, but we hadn't really thought he would still need it, since all the babies were doing so well… we had three very healthy babies in the NICU until Friday, even accounting for Tuesday's low hematocrit. We'll see how the week goes, and ask about having him carry the pager next Shabbos just in case. It was poor planning on our parts, that's for sure.

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I wish I had the energy to make a real post with more actual content, but I don’t. Suffice it to say, I’m still mooing, and it’s astounding how much energy that takes. Yesterday I produced over a pint of milk and I continued to be disproportionately proud of this accomplishment. I am ridiculously fascinated with my breasts these days, which is slightly embarrassing, but hey, everyone else seems fascinated by them too, so I may as well have some fun, right? The best part is that I’ve even gotten to actually nurse all three babies since Sunday (actually I didn’t start with Abby until Monday), and they’re little champs doing really well. I only nurse them once a day, but when I do, my production goes way up afterward, which only adds fuel to the fire of my fascination. Moo, I say proudly. Moo. Anyway, all that pumping and feeding and such keeps me mighty exhausted. And hungry. Like seriously starving. I’ve never been so hungry in my entire life. After six months of not being able to keep any food down, this is a fascinating (and liberating) turn of events.

The babies are doing great. Ellie is off her TPN and doesn’t even have her IV anymore. Little Mr. Smiley will be soon. And even Abby should be off hers by the end of the week. They are all perfect little fighters. There’s lots more to say, but like I said, I’m exhausted beyond belief, so I’ll leave you with a couple quick pictures. Oh, and to the anonymous commenter who doesn’t even have the nerve to identify herself with so much as initials… I’m finding your insight endlessly amusing and my husband finds it to be entirely entertaining, so bring it on. It won’t change anything, and I don’t know why it should have come as a shock to you or anything. I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a sheitel-wearing, halacha-observing, frum, traditional, though admittedly on the modern side, Orthodox Jew. But still, I find your quixotic enthusiasm cute and well, I could use a laugh right now. It helps keep me awake for the endless pumping in the middle of the night. Like I said, Moo.

On to pictures:

This was me two days post-partum, cuddling my beautiful Ellie-bellie. She’s such a beauty, even if she does cross her eyes a lot. I find this absolutely endearing, even though I know it’s just something preemies do a lot… I crossed my eyes as a kid (and in fact still see double) and had four eye surgeries to correct the muscle disparity between my eyes. While I don’t wish that on my child, her crossed eyes still make me smile.

Here’s our beautiful Abby-saurus. When she was born she had a ridge in her skull which has already smoothed out, but it was adorable and made her look like a little dinosaur, hence the name, Abby-saurus. Here’s Abby snoozing in her father’s hands. She’s so tiny and delicate. She definitely lives up to her name… her father’s joy and comfort. He may not realize it, but my husband is especially protective of her, and I suspect it’s entirely subconscious based solely on the fact that she’s so tiny. He adores all three and pays lots of attention to all of them, but you can see the way he curls his hands around her that he feels the need to protect her from the world just a tiny bit more. It’s neat to watch.

Here are our handsome little man and Ellie together in my lap. They are beautiful, aren’t they? And I get that I’m biased, but nurses in the NICU who aren’t assigned to our babies make a point to pull us aside just to tell us how beautiful our babies are. I love how our little man can just sleep absolutely anywhere. Nothing was going to disturb his nap that night!

Last, but definitely not least, here’s our trio together, for the first time since the OR. They are amazing. It was thrilling to hold all three at once! I can’t believe they are ALL MINE! What fun!

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I wish I had the energy to make a real post with more actual content, but I don't. Suffice it to say, I'm still mooing, and it's astounding how much energy that takes. Yesterday I produced over a pint of milk and I continued to be disproportionately proud of this accomplishment. I am ridiculously fascinated with my breasts these days, which is slightly embarrassing, but hey, everyone else seems fascinated by them too, so I may as well have some fun, right? The best part is that I've even gotten to actually nurse all three babies since Sunday (actually I didn't start with Abby until Monday), and they're little champs doing really well. I only nurse them once a day, but when I do, my production goes way up afterward, which only adds fuel to the fire of my fascination. Moo, I say proudly. Moo. Anyway, all that pumping and feeding and such keeps me mighty exhausted. And hungry. Like seriously starving. I've never been so hungry in my entire life. After six months of not being able to keep any food down, this is a fascinating (and liberating) turn of events.

The babies are doing great. Ellie is off her TPN and doesn't even have her IV anymore. Little Mr. Smiley will be soon. And even Abby should be off hers by the end of the week. They are all perfect little fighters. There's lots more to say, but like I said, I'm exhausted beyond belief, so I'll leave you with a couple quick pictures. Oh, and to the anonymous commenter who doesn't even have the nerve to identify herself with so much as initials… I'm finding your insight endlessly amusing and my husband finds it to be entirely entertaining, so bring it on. It won't change anything, and I don't know why it should have come as a shock to you or anything. I've never hidden the fact that I'm a sheitel-wearing, halacha-observing, frum, traditional, though admittedly on the modern side, Orthodox Jew. But still, I find your quixotic enthusiasm cute and well, I could use a laugh right now. It helps keep me awake for the endless pumping in the middle of the night. Like I said, Moo.

On to pictures:

This was me two days post-partum, cuddling my beautiful Ellie-bellie. She's such a beauty, even if she does cross her eyes a lot. I find this absolutely endearing, even though I know it's just something preemies do a lot… I crossed my eyes as a kid (and in fact still see double) and had four eye surgeries to correct the muscle disparity between my eyes. While I don't wish that on my child, her crossed eyes still make me smile.

Here's our beautiful Abby-saurus. When she was born she had a ridge in her skull which has already smoothed out, but it was adorable and made her look like a little dinosaur, hence the name, Abby-saurus. Here's Abby snoozing in her father's hands. She's so tiny and delicate. She definitely lives up to her name… her father's joy and comfort. He may not realize it, but my husband is especially protective of her, and I suspect it's entirely subconscious based solely on the fact that she's so tiny. He adores all three and pays lots of attention to all of them, but you can see the way he curls his hands around her that he feels the need to protect her from the world just a tiny bit more. It's neat to watch.

Here are our handsome little man and Ellie together in my lap. They are beautiful, aren't they? And I get that I'm biased, but nurses in the NICU who aren't assigned to our babies make a point to pull us aside just to tell us how beautiful our babies are. I love how our little man can just sleep absolutely anywhere. Nothing was going to disturb his nap that night!

Last, but definitely not least, here's our trio together, for the first time since the OR. They are amazing. It was thrilling to hold all three at once! I can't believe they are ALL MINE! What fun!

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