Day three update

Just a quick post to update you on Aiden’s progress today. His blood tests showed that the infection has gone so the doctor has stopped the antibiotics. He has also started to digest the breastmilk and is up to 5ml every 3 hours now. This is a huge relief for us and for him – the isotech (nutrients given intravenously) is providing all he needs but not filling his tummy so the poor boy was hungry and unhappy this morning. At least now his tummy is being filled up, even if he isn’t able to taste the milk as its being given through a feeding tube. Odd to think he’s three days old and hasn’t tasted anything yet!

He has developed jaundice and his bilirubin level is 187 (should be below 160). So he’s been under the UV lights since 15:00 this afternoon and will remain so until tomorrow morning. The downside of this is that we can’t hold him so Col missed out on his afternoon cuddle. Fortunately I had lovely cuddles this morning and a two hour kangaroo mother care (KMC, skin to skin) stint from 09:00-11:00. Lots to be grateful for today!

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Baptism of fire

Because Cameron was born only slightly premature, had no complications and was really just in ICU for monitoring, for us his time there can be compared to test driving a really cool car*. We got short periods of utter delight with none of the maintenance and upkeep.Yes we learnt how to change him, feed him and bath him, but there was always an experienced professional hovering over our shoulders and dispensing advice. And so it is perhaps not that surprising that we were a tad over confident when we brought him home.

By the end of Cameron’s first day at home, the poor boy was utterly overwhelmed. In less than 12 hours he’d had his first immunisations, first trip in a car, was exposed to a whole new environment and met seven new people who all had some cuddle time. On top of that his dad was a bit stressed about bringing him home and his mom was grumpy because she was feeling a bit sore. So it really is no surprise that he didn’t settle down after his 20:00 feed.

When he was in the ICU we discovered that he’s a really contented baby. If something is bothering him he cries, but as soon as the cause is sorted out he stops. This remains the same – it’s just that we are horribly slow on the uptake and can take hours figuring out what that cause is! And so began Cameron’s first long, long night at home.

The 20:00 feed was the last really good meal he had for the next 12 hours. Initially he was overstimulated, but we didn’t really know how to deal with that so alternated between picking him up and putting him in his cot. Not helpful. When he woke for the 23:00 feed we spilt surgical spirits on his baby grow, but knowing how quickly it dries, didn’t change his clothes. He kept fussing after he’d fed, and in desperation I spent two hours lying with him on my chest. It took me far longer than it should have to realise that if I was being bothered by the smell of surgical spirits, I could be damn sure it was driving him mad as initially a baby’s most sensitive sense is the sense of smell. And so at 03:30 we changed his clothes as well as his nappy. Still we had an unhappy boy on our hands. Some investigation (which lasted about 30 minutes) led us to conclude that he was cold. He’s sleeping next to our bed in his pram at the moment, and we discovered that there was a big gap right over his head. We added a nice warm blanket to the bottom of his bed, covered the gap and put a hat on him. Low and behold – he slept!

The next day we tried to be as peaceful as possible. We spent some good time on kangaroo care, just trying to reassure and calm him. He fed a bit fitfully, but slept much better. We were confident of a much better night’s sleep on night two.

And it started out just that way. He fed really well at 21:00, and was in a deep and contented sleep until 00:25. When he woke I changed and fed him. And then it all fell apart again. He wouldn’t settle. This time I knew he wasn’t cold, wasn’t hungry and didn’t have surgical spirits on his clothes! After an hour of trying to comfort him I woke up Col who read up on his symptoms and discovered that he was suffering from cramps due to built-up wind. Unsurprising since we hadn’t been winding him properly. We then spent three torturous hours trying to comfort our poor boy who was in such discomfort. Just when I was contemplating exactly how large the peace offering to our neighbour Linda should be, he finally found some relief and it was smooth sailing from there until 09:00.

What we should have done today was repeat yesterday’s strategy of calm and peaceful. But I’m afraid to report that lunacy took hold. In our commitment to mastering the art of burping a baby we’ve hardly given the boy a moment’s respite all day. One cry and Col was at the cot. The poor man was in a bit of a state after our early morning trauma and just wanted to ease his boy’s pain. But instead Cameron picked up on Dad’s stress and wasn’t the happiest chappie by 15:00 this afternoon. Col and I then had a frank discussion, tried to calm down to a panic and somehow managed to revert back to calm and peaceful. As a result, Cameron is sleeping peacefully in his bed as I type this.

Two days in (is it really only two days?) we are looking decidedly bleary eyed but have hopefully found some sort of fragile equilibrium. All I can say is that thank goodness God made babies so resilient – they need to be to cope with first time parents!

*I don’t mean to be flippant about having a baby in ICU. I know that generally it is a much more stressful and heart wrenching time than what we had to endure, so please take this for what it is – my experience only.

Day two update

Author’s note: this post breaks all the rules about the length that a good post should be but I so don’t care!

To start off with an update on both patients: Cameron could not be doing better. He’s really healthy and just completely adorable. We have no concerns about him at the moment other than the standard preemie baby ones (i.e learning to suck and keeping his under-developed immune system safe from infection). What a champion! I’m feeling strong, managing to move around easily and am not in too much pain all things considered.

We’ve had a number of breakthroughs today.
1. I could have a shower (first one since Sunday) and wash my hair. It was heaven!
2. I had an hour of kangaroo care with Cameron (that’s skin to skin care – google it if you want more info). It was so awesome to just to sit and bond with him.
3. I changed my first nappy! (I know I’ve opened myself up to them, but no snide comments please.) It was a really gooey, gross one but I didn’t care in the least. I had been struggling with the fact that I wasn’t learning how to care for him and was just so excited to be able to do something.
4. Cameron and I managed our first breast feed. He took a while to figure out what was expected of him, but got it in the end. The sucking reflex doesn’t fully develop until 37 weeks (he’s 36 today) so it’s hard work for him but we’ll keep practising.
5. Col changed his first nappy! There was no gooey grossness to be seen (snide comments are now welcome.)
6. Col got to hold his baby boy for the first time (this should really be number one but I’m listing them as they happened not in order of mind-blowing marvellousness.) It was the most precious moment to witness. Col’s been incredibly patient but it’s been a long wait for him.
7. Col got an hour of kangaroo care. So much bonding going on – its just brilliant.

We’re working on a day-to-day basis for the next week. I am being discharged tomorrow but Cameron can only go home when he’s established his feeds. The process for this is progressive and depends very much on how he responds so we have no idea how long it will take. If all goes well we’ll be able to take him home early next week. While this is hard, we’ve been separated from him since his birth and that makes it easier. The hospital only allows the mother to lodge (stay over) for the night before the baby is discharged so there is going to be a lot of driving backwards and forwards (and of course I cant drive myself because of the op; logistical challenges loom but we’ll make it work.) We are focusing firmly on positives and are going to try and use the time to recover some strength. For the next two or three days I won’t have to be at the hospital very much, and as much as I want to spend time with our boy, I figure I should try to get some sleep in preparation for when the feeding establishment process gets really hectic.

On Sunday when I was having my ‘I’m having a baby in 2 hours’ freak out, my friend Katy wisely said that God would give me grace to deal with each thing as it came. I’m really finding this to be true. I feel like I’m in some kind of calm bubble. Every now and then something will get through and I’ll have a stressed or tearful moment, but a few reminders of all the positives restores my perspective and sense of peace. This bubble may burst soon (the three day blues are expected tomorrow according to all the books) but I’m appreciating it while I can.

To sum up there are challenges to be dealt with but then our boy arrived a whole month early so there were bound to be. Col and I fall more in love with Cameron every time we see him, are marvelling at his teeny-tinyness and enjoying what interaction we have with him. We are so excited for the day when we can take home and you can come and meet him. In the meantime I’ll post more pics on Facebook.

PS Sorry about any typos. One my brain is turning to goo, and two I’m using my phone to type this which is a touch challenging.

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