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?)
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.
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.)
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 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.
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.