It has been while since we have written an update--we apologize! While having Conan in Riverside makes him closer geographically, we have now gotten to the point where our lives have gone back to "normal," meaning John-Paul is back to work and Shannon is caring for the girls and our home full-time again. This also means visits are now mostly in the evening, which is exhausting at the end of a long day, and we must take turns so that one of us can stay behind with the girls. But we always look forward to our Conan snuggles at the end of the day!
Conan is now two months old and is doing amazingly well. He is 35 weeks gestation. Respiratory-wise, he is currently on .5 liters of oxygen at 21% (room air) which is hardly anything. He continues to have desats throughout the day (almost all are "self-resolved" within moments) and haziness in his lungs as shown by his weekly X-ray, but that's to be expected with Respiratory Distress Syndrome in preemies. His doctors are hoping he will be off the cannula completely by the end of this week. We cannot wait until it's off!! We have only ever seen him one time without it because we happened to be there while the RT was changing his tubes.
As of yesterday, he was 6lbs 0.7oz. He is a chubby baby! He is taking 52mls of fortified breast milk every three hours, which is almost 14oz per day. But the BIG news is that in the past week and a half he has been taking full or partial bottles for at least half of his feedings, AND for the past week he has successfully breastfed one time per day for about 15-30 minutes which makes us so happy!! The lactation nurse feels he will have no trouble nursing since he has been doing so well with Shannon. He LOVES nursing!
During a previous eye exam with the pediatric ophthamologist, he was found to have stage II ROP, which usually resolves on its own, but can sometimes require intervention to help prevent permanent damage to the eye. However, during his third eye exam (on Friday 12/19) his eyes looked perfect--the ROP has resolved!! We were so pleased with this news.
We feel so incredibly blessed to have had such a smooth NICU stay so far with our son. No brain bleeds, no infections, no ROP requiring intervention, no heart issues, no intubation, etc., etc. Like so many of his doctors have said, he has done amazingly well--almost miraculously well.
As long as Conan continues to do well and does not become ill, we are expecting him to be home by or before his due date, January 22nd. So this means we are now getting the house ready for Conan to come home. We've received so many generous hand-me-downs for Conan and are in the midst of washing/sorting/folding/putting away his clothes, getting his crib ready (it's currently full of clothes, toys belonging to the girls, blankets, etc.), organizing the changing table (it has become a toy cabinet…) and his cloth diapers, organizing the girls' toy sets (we predict many toy donations to our local Salvation Army truck in our near future), re-arranging the car seats in the back seat, and just general organization and cleaning of our small living space. I suppose this is our version of "nesting" since we are now getting ready to welcome our newborn.
One last thought that I am sure most preemie parents (particularly moms) can relate to. It is incredibly disorienting to have a baby in the NICU. At this point I have just about healed completely from his birth, John-Paul is back to work and like I mentioned earlier, our "normal" pre-pregnancy life has mostly returned for our kids… but then there's this baby that we visit and talk about and for whom I continue to pump my breast milk around the clock who still isn't home with us. It's almost as though his pregnancy and birth were all a dream. And since I've been out in my community regularly now (grocery store, little gym, park, Jordan's school, library, etc.) and I am obviously not pregnant, I imagine it will be confusing to people when I all of the sudden have a newborn with me. It's bizarre, and a completely different experience from birthing and bringing home a term baby. I also struggle with what to tell people. Do I tell them his chronological age when they ask? Or do I tell them his "corrected" age (his age beginning from his due date) so as not to confuse people? He will certainly not be looking or acting like a three month-old on his due date, nor will he look or act like a typical one-year-old on his first Birthday. Educating others about prematurity was certainly not anything I ever imagined myself doing, but seeing as though John-Paul and I are both educators, we will likely be doing a lot of just that in the near future. Although his NICU stay is quickly coming to an end, it is becoming increasingly clear that having a NICU graduate will continue to bring new experiences for us as parents.