|Special Care Nursery aka NICU|
He was born at 34 weeks gestation weighing 3 pounds, 3 ounces. He spent his first 16 days in NICU.
We've almost been home for a week. Already, the NICU seems like ages ago, but I never want to forget that special time. It was truly a gift to have that week to love on our son and cheer him on as he overcame several challenges from being a preemie.
When we met him, he was 3 pounds, 5 ounces. Soooooo tiny. But also so perfect. God had protected him from so much! He had already changed from IV feedings to tube and bottle feedings. He was getting every 3rd feeding through his tube but the other two through bottles. He was in the incubator most of the time and only allowed out for 20-30 minutes per day. He was hooked up to a few monitors but nothing major. The times we got to hold him were very special but went by way too fast.
At the beginning, there was no realistic time expectation for how long he would be in NICU. We thought it would be a certain weight that he got to, but it was more based on milestones. He needed to be able to have only bottle feedings, to maintain his body temperature in the open air and to pass the 'car seat test'. The car seat test meant that he had to be in his car seat for 3 hours without having any of his vitals cause concern. We heard that it could be anything from 1 to 4 weeks before he came home. We prepared ourselves to be with him as much as possible but also to have to cheer him on from Charleston to save our time off work.
Starting late in the second day, we were able to do his bottle feedings in 'open air'. So, it was extra time we got to spend holding him and learning how to help him eat. From the little research I had done on preemies, I knew that bottle feeding could be a major concern. I was so relieved that he didn't seem to have any problems with the 'suck, swallow, breathe' aspect of feeding. It also really helped to have the nurses right there to coach us through it. His only problem was getting tuckered out part way through his bottle.
His first bottle in the open air wasn't the best experience. It was only a little over 24 hours after meeting him. We had been with him a lot-- touching him, talking to him, letting him know he had a family. When the nurse said I could feed him, I was so happy! I felt sure he would eat like a champ with his new mommy. BUT, he didn't. He wasn't able to finish his bottle, and I got really discouraged. They gave him the rest through the feeding tube, and I felt like I had failed. The nurse was so kind to give us a realistic perspective... she just helped us realize that he may have been overstimulated by all of our 'loving on' him in such a short amount of time. She helped us realize that his most important job at this stage was to eat. She suggested we start leaving him alone for the hour before he eats. We took her advice to leave the hospital for a couple of hours, and my sister met us and Mom for an early dinner. By the time we got back, it was time for the next feeding, and he DID eat like a champ! But the first feeding had been a good reminder and a good jolt of perspective. We learned that rest is really, really good for this little guy.
The next day, he started to do exclusively bottle feedings. We started learning more tricks to help him stay awake during his feeding time. We also continued to let him rest an hour before each feeding, and he ate really well.
After being with him for 3 days, we came back to Charleston to work for a couple of days. It was hard to leave him, but we knew he was in good hands. We also knew we wanted to save our time off for when he got home. While we were home, he transitioned to 'ad-lib' feedings where they let him eat as much as he wanted every 3 hours. He did a fairly good job at eating a consistent amount, which the doctor was very pleased with.
By the time we got back to him, he had begun to transition to open-air, which meant he had gained enough weight to start to maintain his body temperature. This was huge!
Tyndall exceeded expectations and came home weighing 3 pounds, 15.6 ounces at 16 days old.
Other things to remember from the first few days in NICU:
- Wonderful Nurses: Sara, Kathy, Amy (x2), Karen, Sherri, Mary, Dametriel (for a few hours), Cindy (our discharge nurse), Robbie (while we were back home)... Seriously, the nurses made that time so special. They answered our questions, listened to our adoption story and taught us how to best care for our son.
- Scrubbing-in. I would like a scrub-in station at my house.
- Chad, Christina, and Miracle. Friends we made in the NICU. Chad was born at 30 weeks and explained to us what it meant to be a 'wimpy white boy' in NICU.
- First stay at Hampton Inn with Mom and trip to Babies R Us.
- Second stay at Ronald McDonald house
- Visitors at the hospital: Mom/BeBe, Valerie, Papa, Gigi, Uncle Steven, Aunt Steph, Eddie, Frances, and Phyllis Jenkins
- Photography session with Casey at Blissful Photography on Discharge/Adoption Day (a friend from college)
- Kangaroo Care
- Nurse Marlena... the only nurse we met who cared for him his first week. She said she prayed over him and prayed for his future family... very special!
- The waiting room... where we spent a lot of time checking email, uploading pictures to a private Facebook album for family to see, and writing blogs that had to wait to be published until papers were signed. (Also where we signed the papers and made everything official that we already knew in our hearts to be true.)