NICU. Yuck. And then not as bad as it was.
That's the summary of our twins' stay in NICU. The first part of them being there, with all their alien looking tubes and wires was not fun at all. And then they got off the tubes and most of the wires and we got to hold them and breastfeed them and it wasn't so bad.
But it is still sort of bad. The NICU is very noisy. There are alarms going off all the time. Some to let you know that the babies' monitors have come unattached. Some to let you know they have too little or too much oxygen in their bloodstream. And the worst of all, the brady monitors, which tell you that they've stopped breathing and their heart rate is going down below 80. This monitor's alarm is 3 very loud, very short beeps. You can hear them all over the NICU. The sound is so pervasive that I hear them in the house sometime. (Ghost bradys). A police car with its light and siren on came up behind us the other day and I thought it was a brady alarm.
Any time one of these alarms goes off, parents freak out to check whether it's their child and the nurses all stop what they are doing and run over to the child whose alarm is going off. If it's a "good" brady, the baby will recover on his or her own. If it's a moderate brady, a nurse provides gentle stimulation by patting the baby to get the baby to start breathing again. A bad brady requres a dose of caffeine to start the breathing process again. They actually have an espresso coffee machine going to feed them a shot of coffee. (Just kidding! That espresso is for us!) :-)
So NICU is noisy and alarming, in every sense of the word. And the worst is the brady alarms. The reason this has more meaning for us today than it did yesterday is that Christopher has started having a few more bradys again. Last week, during the doctor's rounds, they said Christopher's last "moderate" brady was June 13. Because he was eating so well, they and we thought we could bring him home on Sunday, seven days after his last brady requiring stimulation. Then on Friday, the 18th, he had a brady while breastfeeding in which I had to remove him from my breast so he would start breathing again. (He didn't remember to start breathing on his own). That meant he would stay in longer and we thought this Wednesday the 24th. Then yesterday, he had another brady while breastfeeding. And last night he had a brady that required gentle stimulation while he was sleeping. (That one is the worst)
Now, we don't know what is going on. Bridget is coming home on Wednesday. She has had very very few bradys to begin with and her last one requiring gentle stimulation was June 13th. And she is going through an amazing growth spurt right now and eating like a wild baby and putting on weight.
After last night's brady, I am doubtful that he'll get to come home Wednesday, too. We are hoping he can come home on Friday, and I will have taken the infant CPR class on Thursday night. If he does come home this week, he is going to be on an apnea monitor. This is a little belt that goes around his chest to measure breathing and heart rate and sounds an AMAZINGLY LOUD alarm should his breathing or heart rate get too low. When/if the alarm goes off, after we all pry ourselves off the ceiling, we run over to him and do something. (I'm assuming that training from the hospital will tell us what we are supposed to do)
The good news is that preemies outgrow bradys. In fact, term babies have bradies all the time, they are just not monitored as closely as preemies, and they likely recover on their own. Usually, preemies outgrow bradies by term. (3 more weeks for us). A very few children continue to have bradys for the first 6 months. (I hope that's not our guy!) And best of all, there is not a relationship between bradys and SIDS.
We're just playing the waiting game with Christopher for his brain to mature enough to remember to breathe all the time. It's really not an uncommon problem, it's just a pain and very worrisome to his parents. And I don't know how long we will go until we don't hear brady alarms all over the place. That's the weirdest part about NICU. It's really pervasive, beyond just the hospital.
Now for some cuteness:
This is Christopher last week.
This is Bridget last week.