06 April 2012

Actual vs. Adjusted

We've been home with Samuel 4 days now and let's just say neither my husband nor myself have gotten a lot of sleep.  I know, sleep when the baby sleeps, but we're dealing with a baby that sleeps best when being held and I just don't feel comfortable sleeping with him.  I move around a lot in my sleep, so maybe I'm just paranoid that I'll squish him or throw him on the floor.  So for now, I sleep when Ben's taking care of him at night (we trade off feeding times), and catch some cat naps during the day.

Right now it is extremely important that we help Sam sleep as much as he can!  Of course if he is happily awake, we won't stop that either, but we need him sleeping.  Which is why we hold him so much, if we're holding him he sleeps better, and if he sleeps better that means he eats better.  The NICU doctor told us he should eat every 2-4 hours and about 8-10 times per day.  This means we are not training him to sleep through the night right now, which brings me to the title of this post!

Samuel's actual age is currently 10 weeks.  His adjusted age is only 37 weeks gestation, or he should not even be born yet.  That means in some ways he's still kind of like a baby that is at 37 weeks gestation.  As we move past his due date he'll have a different kind of adjusted age.  His due date is the 28th of this month.  That means on the 29th he'll be approximately 3 months actual, but only 1 day adjusted.

Where exactly am I going with all this?  Well, we've been given some great advice on how to get Samuel to sleep through the night and for right now, we just have to file it away for when we'll finally be able to start getting him to sleep through the night.  For now however the game is, get him to eat as often as we can!  Most babies don't come out of the womb sleeping through the night right away (at least that is my understanding) and considering Samuel should not even be out of the womb yet, we have some time to go.

This doesn't affect just sleeping through the night however, there are many developmental markers that work the same way.  Obviously every baby is a little different, but things that babies generally do around 3 months of age, is 6 months adjusted for Samuel.  So just because he's 3 months old (on his due date) does not mean he'll be able to do the same thing as his 3 month old peers, rather he'll do them with his 3 months adjusted age peers (when he's 6 months actual).  Confused yet?  Welcome to my world!

I like to look at it this way, for other babies of his adjusted age, he's quite advanced!  Most of them are still mooching off their mamas and haven't seen the light of day and Samuel is eating on his own and pooping quite well.  So I like to think we have quite the advanced baby for his age!  Maybe he'll even be ahead of his adjusted age peers in those developmental markers (though probably behind his actual age peers).  All this of course won't matter much in a couple of years.

A quick illustration on why it is so important that Samuel keeps eating frequently:  The first couple of days we struggled to get him eating more frequently than 4 hours apart.  If you do the math, that does not equal 8 feedings in a day.  When the visiting nurse came and weighed him, he had actually dropped 2oz from his discharge weight!  Oops!  Well, the last couple of days he's been a much better eater and he is now a half an ounce above his discharge weight!  (discharge: 5# 14.5oz, Wednesday's weight: 5# 12.5oz, today: 5# 15oz).  You see how important it is that we keep him eating as much as we can?  I've already resigned myself to probably not remember much of the month of April....

I hope I wasn't too rambly...  But I'll stop now, I need to wake that little baby up so he can eat and then I'll pump (oh yeah, still pumping after every feeding...).  My time goes quickly with all this feeding stuff going on!

02 April 2012

The Finish Line

As I write this Samuel's discharge papers are getting finished up and Ben is driving home from Nebraska (with a stop in Des Moines).  When Ben gets here we'll go through the discharge papers together and bring our little boy home for the first time.

It's all kind of surreal really.  I mean all we have known about parenting has been our time in the NICU.  As frustrating as it is to be in the NICU it definitely has come with some perks.  Now we have to say goodbye to our "babysitters,"  farewell to 3 meals a day that we don't have to cook and so long to immediate medical assistance when something happens.  This will be a new transition of sorts.

We will have a transition kind of like that of regular non NICU new parents, just a little different.  Because of the traces of ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) they saw, he's back on oxygen.  Apparently there is some evidence that keeping those o2 levels high decreases the growth of ROP.  So, he's going home on oxygen (which is kind of scary!).  Then there's a positive side, we know our son pretty well already.  Most parents start getting to know their baby at the hospital, but then really get to know them at home, we have a bit of a head start on that!  Of course, they have warned us, that babies tend to change some when they get home and develop some new patterns.  So we'll still be getting to know him!

The last few days have been very uneventful and we actually probably could have gone home yesterday.  Over the weekend he was having some borderline temps and the doctor was somewhat hesitant to send him home on Sunday.  When talking he asked me what I preferred.  I told him that I honestly preferred Monday over Sunday because then Ben could be here to help get him home and set up.  So today it is and things continue to go well!

I can't speak for Ben, but I know I am sure going to miss the NICU.  I have spent more time in the NICU in 2012 than anywhere else.  The staff here have become friends and I will miss seeing them.  The doctors and nurses have been just fantastic in every way possible.  So as excited as I am to bring our baby home, I am also sad to see this chapter close for other reasons.

This year is going to be different, but as it has already proven, different isn't necessarily bad, in fact so far, different has been amazing!  This will be the first year since I studied abroad to not be involved in Holy Week and Easter services, but that's ok.  Right now, with Sam's immature immunity system and his needing to conserve some energy for eating, that is what is best for our boy.  I don't know when I will start showing up at Church with him, but you can bet when I do, he will be kept very close to me and away from everyone else (at least for a little while).  Eventually I will let others touch and hold him, but at first....

I digress...  We are going home this afternoon and I can't wait!  I think one thing I am looking forward to is him just being there and I don't have to shower before driving over to nurse him, I can shower when it's convenient because I won't be going out into public first thing in the morning!

The next post...  will be from our house and no longer from the NICU!