NICU—One Week Old!
Today marks one week since Ethan was born! We couldn’t stop repeating this to ourselves all day. If one week went this fast, then he will be home before we know it!
Ethan is almost up to full feeds, which will be 33 ml every three hours. He’s at 31 right now and doing great. While it doesn’t sound like a lot, we are amazed each time they fill up the syringe that sends the food through his feeding tube. It seems like all that liquid would never fit in his tiny tummy! But it does and his system is handling it just fine.
His bili number was up just slightly today, but the doctors said he doesn’t need to go under the lights just yet. He’s also still off of the TPN, and if he continues to do well on the fortified breast milk-only diet, his IV will be gone by the weekend. Fingers crossed!!
Uncle Daryl (my mom’s brother who lives here in St. Louis) came to visit tonight, and his wife Cathy visited last night after her shift at the Barnes ER. While we are still the only ones who hold and touch him, it’s nice to have a few local visitors come see the cuteness.
While Ethan is doing so well and we are starting to feel the constant worry/fear decrease a little every day, his “Apnea” is still the most gut-wrenching part of having a preemie. Since Ethan is hooked up to several monitors, we can always see his heart rate, respiratory rate, and O2 level on a computer screen. When any of these rates dip even slightly below where they should be, or what they call “Bradycardia”, nurses are alerted by lights and an alarm. Since preemies have trouble coordinating swallowing and breathing, sometimes (especially after he is fed) Ethan’s rates will drop slightly for a few seconds, then go back up. Another reason he may have dropped rates is if his head/neck placement is not just right. It makes things a little stressful when you aren’t used to it! We see it every day but still panic inside while it happens. But the doctors assure us that it would be more unusual if he DIDN”T have Apnea and moments of bradycardia. Since Ethan was born at 31 weeks, he will quickly outgrow this stuff and will not be having these issues when he comes home. (See more on Apnea of Prematurity Below the pictures)
Apnea of Prematurity
After they’re born, babies must breathe continuously to get oxygen. In a premature baby, the part of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) that controls breathing is not yet mature enough to allow nonstop breathing. This causes large bursts of breath followed by periods of shallow breathing or stopped breathing. The medical term for this is apnea of prematurity, or AOP.
About Apnea of Prematurity
Apnea of prematurity is fairly common in preemies. Doctors usually diagnose the condition before the mother and baby are discharged from the hospital, and the apnea usually goes away on its own as the infant matures. Once apnea of prematurity goes away, it does not come back. But no doubt about it — it’s frightening while it’s happening.
Apnea is a medical term that means a baby has stopped breathing. Most experts define apnea of prematurity as a condition in which premature infants stop breathing for 15 to 20 seconds during sleep.
Generally, babies who are born at less than 35 weeks’ gestation have periods when they stop breathing or their heart rates drop. (The medical name for a slowed heart rate is bradycardia.) These breathing abnormalities may begin after 2 days of life and last for up to 2 to 3 months after the birth. The lower the infant’s weight and level of prematurity at birth, the more likely he or she will have AOP.