Update on Tricia and Ander

Ander

Sunday is always a good day to count one’s blessings; a good way to begin the week. Last week I wrote about my daughter, Tricia, and her new baby boy, Ander, who was born 8 weeks early on April 27, 2o13. The past week has been full of challenges and blessings.

Despite Ander’s early birth and the fact that he is in the NICU, Tricia is the one with ongoing drama. After Ander’s birth, Tricia’s blood pressure continued to remain high. She was given medication to help lower her blood pressure and was also kept on magnesium sulfate until the following day at 11:00 AM to help protect her against having seizures. Preeclampsia can be deadly. (Did anyone see the episode of Downton Abbey where Lady Sybil Branson dies from preeclampsia/eclampsia?)

Left pic: Tricia's face at the time her labor was induced. Right pic: 5 days later the edema was completely gone.
Left pic: Tricia’s face at the time her labor was induced. Right pic: 5 days later the edema was completely gone.
Tricia's feet
The picture on the left is of Tricia’s swollen legs and feet the week she was hospitalized prior to giving birth to Ander. The picture on the right was taken about 5 days after Ander was born. It makes me want to cry when I see how much fluid Tricia was holding.

By Monday afternoon Tricia had stabilized to the point that she could come home. However, she was readmitted to the hospital the very next day because her blood pressure was again high, her headache was worsening, and her vision was blurry. Her blood work showed marked changes and  she was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome. HELLP is an acronym for the following:

  • H- hemolysis (the breakdown of red blood cells)
  • EL- elevated liver enzymes (which indicate that the liver is not functioning well)
  • LP- low platelets counts (platelets help the blood to clot–low platelets mean that blood will not clot well–bad plan for a woman who has recently given birth)

It is very rare for a woman to develop HELLP syndrome after delivery. 🙁 Poor Tricia, she was put back on magnesium sulfate. That can be a really mean drug with unpleasant side effects. (To get the first part of the story from my perspective, read my post on Preeclampsia. To get Tricia’s side of the story, read her posts here and here.)

Anyway, Tricia was finally released…again, the following evening. She gets better each day, but her headache lingers and she still has to take medication for her blood pressure. She faithfully drives up to the hospital to see Ander several times a day and participates in his cares.

Tricia and Ander 1

Now that we are on the subject of Ander, oh my gosh he is absolutely darling! I got to see him Friday evening and fell in love with him all over again. As I rested my hand lightly on his little belly, he was moving his tiny arms and hands around. He kept tapping my hand and wrist during his wiggling. I could have stayed there forever, feeling his soft touch.

Ander has come a long way in the past week. He learned to breath regularly on his own and was taken off of the CPAP. If you have never had occasion to encounter a CPAP, it is simply a machine with a mask or short tubes that fit into the nostrils which uses gentle air pressure to keep the airway open. People with sleep apnea use these compact machines at night to keep their airways open and to regulate their breathing. (Many people have sleep apnea. Do you? Read more about sleep apnea and CPAPs here.)

Ander
Ander at about 3 days old. Tricia is resting her hand on his head. You can see how small Ander is with Tricia’s hand as a size reference.

 

Another milestone happened just today, Ander has developed his “rooting” reflex. This very important reflex is also a part of the all important sucking reflex which Ander also seems to be mastering, too!

He has responded well to breastmilk through his feeding tube. He will be squirming around, indicating that he is hungry, and then as soon as he senses the milk in his stomach, his eyes sort of roll around, and than he gets really still and falls asleep.

A baby’s development can be greatly enhanced by “skin to skin” contact. Both Tricia and Tim have had some quiet time with Ander, holding him next to the bare skin on their chests. Ander seems to love this time. Tricia says that he snuggles against her and goes to sleep. I’m sure that the sound of his mother’s heartbeat is very familiar and comforting to him.

Ander 3

Ander is still a little guy, weighing only 3 pounds 10.5 ounces. The amount of breast milk put through his feeding tube is being increased  incrementally. The doctors meet together each morning and decide on an individual plan of care for the day for each baby in the NICU. I have been so amazed at how carefully each detail is monitored. Everything is performed on a schedule, every task, even a bedding change, is scheduled for a specific time. Caring for these fragile preemie babies is an art as well as a science.

Gavin and Kade have both been to see Ander in the NICU. They are allowed to see him twice a week. Gavin (6) is a bit hesitant about Ander. I asked him today why he feels this way around Ander and he said, “Well, he is new. I haven’t seen him with our family yet. I don’t know him.”

Kade (3), on the other hand, has been absolutely thrilled about Ander’s arrival. He has just jumped right in and helps take “care” of Ander. He loves to touch Ander and talk to him. Today he even took it upon himself to locate Ander’s binky and put it in his (Ander’s) mouth. As you can see from the picture below, the binky is about as big as Ander’s head.

Kade and Ander 2

Kade and Ander

Ander with binky

So, there are many things for which I am thankful today. I am thankful for a daughter whose health is returning, a daughter whose life has been preserved. I am thankful for a new grandson who has brought so much love to our family. I am thankful for the opportunity that I have had to participate in my grandchildrens’ lives–taking Gavin to school, making meals for them, helping with homework, attending soccer and basketball games, brushing teeth, giving baths, and reading bedtime stories. I am thankful to have the opportunity to be of service to my daughter and son in-law. I am most thankful to a loving Heavenly Father for providing me with the strength and ability to enjoy my family and I am forever grateful to him for his loving mercy particularly over this past week.

photo 1(1)
This picture both warms my heart and makes me laugh. Ander likes to be awake, looking around at whatever his immature baby eyes can see. I suspect that he sees more than just us mortals. He responds to his parent’s voices when he hears them coming into the NICU by lifting his head and squirming. He already knows to whom he belongs, knows who loves him, knows when he is safe and warm. This little guy is clearly a testament of God’s love and mercy.

 

Comments

  1. says

    Terri, I am so happy to hear that both Ander and Tricia are doing so well.

    Tricia’s feet! OMgosh… what unbelievable photos from only five days apart. That poor thing… she must have felt like a water balloon. They truly look like two different people… it’s amazing what our body can withstand. Tricia looks so beautiful now that her health is returning… I hope she is 100% better very soon and those headaches go away.

    Ander is truly a miracle and little fighter. He looks amazing for being born so early and so small! I think his nickname should be Ander the Amazing! I also love the photos of your other grandson and the baby.. how cute. Your daughter has given them all beautiful strong names… Gavin, Kade and Ander… such beautiful boys!!

    Wishing you all the best and may you continue to be blessed every day.

    Hugs, Ramona 🙂

  2. Megan says

    Congratulations on your precious new grandson! I’m glad to hear your daughter is doing better. My twin babies were born at 33 weeks, so I know the NICU routine very well. It can be an exhausting time, but your daughter is blessed to have you nearby. By the way, I’m making your ugly enchiladas as I type. I’m spreading the process out over a few days, so I won’t have a finished product until Thursday. I just had a roast I needed to use and thought this would be a yummy way to do so! Can’t wait to taste the results.

    • says

      Hi Megan. Thank you! With twins I’m sure that you ARE well acquainted with the NICU with twins in there. My daughter just got home from visiting Ander and said that she couldn’t believe how much of her day is taken up pumping, traveling back and forth to the NICU, and then spending time with Ander. I had to chuckle and then told her that at least I was here to keep up on the laundry, do the cooking, and some of the cleaning.

      Let me know how the ugly enchiladas turn out…successes, questions, suggestions.

  3. says

    Thank goodness Tricia is doing better and what a sweetie Ander is! You have a beautiful family! Family is so critical in times like these and sounds like you have a good support system. I don’t have children of my own but we are into the next phase taking care of our parents, on my and my husbands side. I thank God everyday for my brothers and sister. We get along so well and when our parents need something we all just spring into action. Please tell Tricia she’s got family on the outside praying for her too! I hope she and Ander continue to improve by leaps and bounds!

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