Monday, February 8, 2010

Life in the NICU - The Learning Curve

I wasn't prepared for a preemie. My record of giving birth had stood up pretty well, 2 babies, both full term. I really knew very little of what went on in the NICU. I knew there were small babies in there. I know someone who delivered her son at 28 weeks last year and spent 10 weeks traipsing back and forth from home to hospital.
I've learned a lot since then and learning curve is huge.
I first saw my daughter in the NICU the morning after she was born (yes, I did get to see her and hold her for a while before she was admitted in). As she was early, she was having some difficulty with breathing. She spent the first 5 days in an isolette, on and IV. Her first night she had a CPAP mask. When I first saw her inside, I saw lots of wires. Her little arm was splinted up and her breathing looked like a lot of work. I didn't know if I was allowed to touch her, or even how to open up the isolette. The nurse started filling me in with terms and plans that I knew nothing about.
3 weeks later I feel like and expert.
IV I knew already, I'd been hooked up to one of those myself. The IV provided the hydration that she needed. Once she was ready for it, her IV bag was changed from a sugar water formula to a TPN formula that contained more nutrients necessary, until she was ready to start to try to feed.
The CPAP mask helped to give her oxygen and just open up her lungs a little bit more.
The NG tube is a feeding tube, through her nose and into her tummy. It attaches to a syringe where my breastmilk is warmed up and placed in and goes directly down.
Everything in NICU is based on numbers at first. How many CCs is she taking of breastmilk? What is her weight today? How much does she need to eat in order to gain? What was in her diaper? How many diapers is she needing? How long is she sleeping? How long can she sleep before needing to feed again?
I hear other parents in the unit bay discussing all these things. I hear the nurses explaining it to them. And I feel somewhat educated now.
I know how to attach and unattach all those wire leads to weigh her. I know how to use the scale and double check her numbers. I know how to use her feeding tube unassisted. None of it scares me anymore. It's just part of life now.

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