December 29, 2009

the twelve days of christmas... [ neonatal style ]

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Harlow gave to me ...
    twelve lights a-flashing
    eleven monitors beeping
    ten weeks more growing
    nine mls a-drinking
    eight mothers expressing
    seven people visiting
    six "desats" an hour
    five hundred grams
    four squawking roomies
    three heart monitor pads
    two angel wings
    and a pair of booties on a christmas tree

Please note: the above song has been limited to the final verse due to length and a lack of will to type that much.  Also, the five hundred grams is now much weight he has put on since birth.

And now for something completely different...

On Christmas day, I sat down to Christmas lunch and tried to make a sandwich out of two slices of bread and an entire ham. It did not work (*sad*), but I had options. Harlow does not enjoy the same options available to those on the "outside", but of those he is able to enjoy, he is making great inroads. He is now taking seventeen mls of milk every two hours, a huge improvement over even a week ago. His consumption of TPM (Nasa trail mix) has dropped to about 1ml per hour and with only a little more milk, his long line will be removed. Sign of him being a big boy...

He has also had an eye test. Grumpy little ass that he is, he did not like it and let it be known. A common problem with really pre term babies is that the receptors on the retina do not develop properly. If left untreated, this will have a negative impact on his vision as he gets older. The scan picked up something odd (we don't know what, we were unable to decipher the notes in his folder) but he will have another scan in a week to see if the abnormality is still there. Fortunately, this kind of problem is easily fixed with lasers and stuff, so, this should not be a problem for long.

This leaves the final hurdle. (Final = poetic licence, there are still many hurdles to go.)

He has heart issues in the form of a PDA, or patent ductus arteriosis. Blood travels different paths depending on whether a baby is still in-utero or not. Out of the womb, blood travels from the heart to the lungs via the pulmonary artery before coming back to the heart and then on to the body through the aorta and back again. The lungs oxygenate the blood ready for use by the body.

While in the womb, there is no need to use the lungs to oxygenate the blood as the blood from the placenta is already oxygenated. Therefore, there is a short circuit, the ductus arteriosis valve. Blood headed to the lungs is diverted to the body by the valve between the pulmonary artery and the aorta. When a baby is born, the valve closes and the lungs start oxygenating the blood.

Harlow's valve has not closed yet. The short circuit is still open. He has had three courses of medicine to close it and still it is open. Stubborn. Like his mother. The alternative to medicine is surgery, a titanium clip across the valve to close it. The consultants are still optimistic that it will close.

So, in a nutshell, that is life in the neonatal ward.

  • Rich.

PS: I have not forgotten about the kilo cake...

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