Saturday, December 12, 2009

Peter and Family Update

In the last blog I explained all of Peter's equipment and the condition he was in. Since he is now 15 days old, I am going to give you an update on his condition.

Currently, he has less wires around him than he did before. They had taken both of the lines out of his umbilical cord so that the cord could fall off and he could get his belly button. They put a line into an artery in his arm for about a day and decided he didn't need it unless his was sick. To keep that working they would also have to run none nutritious liquid through it and it was another potential source for infection to enter his body. His heart has been good so he didn't need the blood pressure gage that was on it, so they just took that line out completely and didn't replace it.

He was weaned from his supplemental nutrition and is taking in exclusively breast milk. He is up to 4.5 ml per hour. They also give him a liquid multi-vitamin and vitamin D. When he gets to be 6 weeks old, he will get iron supplements as well. They were able to do this because he is successfully have normal dirty diapers. One nurse said “he is pooping for all of Scotland!” which seemed to be a strange saying, but at least it means he is doing good.

He was able to be off the ventilator for 3 hours and on a CPAP which just blows air up his nose. This was really good and they are hoping to try again next week.

He has stickers on his chest for a heart monitor and a temperature monitor strapped to his foot. He also has a light that measures his oxygen levels strapped to his arm and an IV in his other hand they give him antibiotics and blood transfusions when he needs them.

We have learned a lot about the human body such as hemoglobins are the red blood cell count (and the main reason Peter needs blood whenever he does). This count gets low when blood is taken for blood tests a lot. His body is a little slow in renewing this. This also effect his oxygen saturation which can cause them to have to turn up the amount of oxygen they give him in his ventilator. Everything effects everything!

Overall, he he is progressing and doing well. They have done a chest x-ray and a sonogram of his brain and both come out fine. He is just moving along little by little.

Kerry and I have been visiting him from noon to 5:30 p.m. everyday. Some kind people from our church has given us a ride, but if wee needed, there is a bus that goes directly there. The hospital is just under 2 miles away so that it is not too difficult to get to. The nurse there have also been very good. They answer our questions and keep us updated about Peter. We are also encouraged to call in to find out how he is doing is we feel concerned. The hospital is called the Royal Infirmary and they have one of the best Neonatal units in this area of the country.

Except when we are sick or if Kerry needs to go to college stuff, I imagine we will continue this routine. I expect that we will most likely visit on Christmas as well.

Kerry and I are doing well. It took me awhile to allow myself to recover from labor and delivery, but I am doing good now. We both get tired though emotionally from watching Peter and worrying about him. There is this hovering parental nature that seems to have taken over. We go through our day doing chores and getting tasks done, but our thoughts are with Peter. It makes for a strange torn life. We spend a lot of time with him, but somehow it feels like its not enough at the same time it feels like it is the majority of our day.

When we go home, I no longer feel like Kerry and I are enough. There is a huge facet of our family that is missing and I don't feel settle without Peter here at home. I also feel dazed trying to figure out what I need right now and what will we need when he comes home. The whole progression of events in our lives have been interrupted and turned upside down. Finally, everything we had expected to happen over the next few months has been re-evaluated and resorted out into a new progression for our lives.

Of course, in the end, it will all turn out just right.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Peter in the Hospital

There have been a lot of good questions about Peter that we have been asked that I felt need a longer forum than facebook to answer.

Peter was born at what we thought was 23 weeks. I had two sonogram to date the pregnancy at the very beginning because of my PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) because my cycle was very irregular. It is very unlikely that these scans at 6 and 7 weeks could be very off, but Peter was born looking two weeks older. This increased his chances of survival significantly. He was 1 lb 9 oz and about 13 inches long. He had to be resuscitated immediately after birth and place in the neonatal unit.

There Peter now has a ventilator which is a tube going down his throat that forces his lungs to breathe. This at minimal levels. He has a tube down his nose into his stomach that they use to feed him beast milk every hour with a syringes. He has an IV in his hand that they can use to give him blood transfusions or medication. He has a line into a vein in his umbilical cord that is also for blood transfusions or medication if needed. He also has a line into an artery in his umbilical card for taking blood samples so that they don't have to prick him all the time. From this is also a monitor for keeping an eye on his heart rate and blood pressure. He then has a monitor strapped to one feet for monitoring his temperature and a monitor on his other foot that checks his oxygen levels. These monitors on his feet are switched every six hours to keep them from bruising him. He is in an incubator that is kept very warm and has high humidity to keep his skin moist. This is also why they do not have clothes on him at this time. Our skin tends to be 12 cells thick, but his skin was only about one cell thick because he was so young. This means he could loose a lot of water through his skin if they are not careful. Also his skin is very delicate and so they treat him very carefully. He should develop normal skin thickness within a couple of weeks. At that time his skin color will not be so red and plastic looking.

All of this seems like a lot, but for Peter's gestational age, he is doing very well and is very stable. They are often testing his blood and checking everything possible because preemies are in high risk of infections and they want to catch any sign of it as early as possible. Even though he he is doing very well, he is not expected to go home until close to his original due date. This is because there is just a lot of growing he must do. For instance, they are having to tweak various things for him. One day they had to give him just a little bit of insulin, another day they put him under a light for jaundice. Sometimes they give him just a little bit of blood to help his hemoglobin levels which tend to go down with all the blood they take for test. These little adjustments will probably continue for a while.

They tried to take his ventilator out and put him on a CPAP (air blown into the nose) about two days after he was born but his brain would not tell him to breathe often enough. They put him back on the ventilator for a little while and intend to try again in a couple of days. This is OK because they needed to see how much they could push him and make him exercise his lungs. He maybe on and off the ventilator periodically until he his strong enough to stay off.

For food, he was first given a liquid through his umbilical cord that had amino acids and nutrients, but they are slowly weening him off of that and progressively giving him more breast milk. Breast milk is the easiest thing for his stomach to digest and it gives him a lot of help with his developing immunity system. He has been doing very well with this and is having plenty of wet diapers. They change his diaper once every six hours so they do not have to mess with his sensitive skin. They are just now waiting for him to have a bowel movement, but it may wait until he is taking in more milk.

I wanted to do research on the issues preemies deal with, but these issue vary greatly and can be discouraging as a statistic. Peter is doing very well and has been really blessed by God with very few of the problems that preemies can deal with. He is still very delicate and we are told to expect good and bad days. Even so, with prayer and patience, we feel that he will continue to do well. Thank you all for your love and concern. Please continue to pray for him. He is my strong little man, but he also has a long journey to travel.