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November 2005


November 1, 2005

It affects one out of every eight infants.
It's the leading cause of newborn death in the United States.

Each year, half a million American babies struggle with it.

In a majority of cases, doctors cannot say why it happens.
Although most people think it has decreased or stayed the same, it has actually increased 28 percent since 1981.
"It" is prematurity...and the number of premature infants born in the U.S. may be higher than even the most recent figures can relate, since the death of extreme preemies is often passed off as a "miscarriage" instead of a newborn death. Few Americans realize how serious prematurity is, how long-lasting it's affects can be, how much it costs Americans, and how often in leads to death. Before Anastasia, I sure didn't know anything about prematurity.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month. Spread the word.
For more information, visit http://www.marchofdimes.com (And Medimmune will donate $1 to the March of Dimes each time you hit the "Click Here" button.)


November 1 (part II)

My cold is much better today; I think that if I wash fastidiously (and perhaps wear a mask), I'll be able to see Anastasia tomorrow. I'm so relieved!

My husband had one of Anastasia's primary nurses call me this evening, because exciting stuff has been going on in the NICU. The nurse decided Anastasia needed more stimulation in order to wake up and eat, so she took our girl out of her small hospital crib (which is the size of a small bassinet) and into a big, high crib, and hung a mobile above it. She also brought out a baby swing. I've never seen anything like that in the NICU, and didn't know they did such things in the hospital.

The nurse said she pulled Anastasia out of her crib, stuck her in the swing, and gave her a stuffed animal. "She looked a little shocked," the nurse said, "but she seemed to enjoy looking around." When my husband came for his after-work visit, she had him dip Anastasia's pacifier in milk from time to time...and our girl sucked on it for a good half hour, wide awake the entire time.

I can't wait to see these new developments - and try to breast feed - tomorrow!


November 1 (part III)

When my hubby got home, he told me about Anastasia's eye exam today. She didn't tolerate it well; she screamed bloody murder and had to be held down. Worse, the results show that she may have ROP, stage 2 or 3. ROP is an eye problem that may lead to blindness. (It caused Stevie Wonder's blindness.) Stage 2 is considered mild, and may reverse itself. Stage 3 is moderate and may require surgery. Anything above stage 3 is definite cause for surgery, to my current understanding. She will be tested again in two weeks.

This is something we need to pray about!


November 2, 2005

This morning, the doctor said Anastasia has actually lost 10 grams. Yesterday, they began giving her a diuretic; she was gaining weight so rapidly without any increase in her feeds, they suspected she had water weight. So, indeed, she did have some. When I asked why she would be retaining water, the doctor said her lungs are too immature to defend themselves well, and oxygen being pushed into her lungs is unnatural; therefore, the lungs become inflamed, causing extra fluid to reside there. He didn't seem too concerned about the situation, though, which is comforting.

He also said he expected Anastasia to go home on oxygen. (He says this each time I talk to him, so I suspect he's trying to get us used to the idea.) This time, however, he ventured a guess as to how long she'd be on the stuff: up to four months. And, as he said, none of us want her in the hospital that long.

Some of you have asked why the doctors aren't being more aggressive about weaning her off the oxygen...but they really can't be. Anastasia tells them how much she needs. If her oxygen is at too low a percent, her blood-oxygen levels go low (she "desats") and her apnea increases. The nurses must turn up her oxygen if this happens. If her oxygen is too high, her blood-oxygen levels go way up (she "high-sats"), and the nurses must turn down her oxygen levels.

The doctor also said he definitely wants to have Anastasia breast feed today, weighing her before and after to see if she's really getting any milk. He added that he wanted to start bottle feeding her when I wasn't there.

I've also done a little reading on ROP, Anastasia's eye condition. (ROP stands for Retinopathy of Prematurity, which is when the blood vessels that form the center of the retina don't develop as they should.) It's widely believed that too much oxygen (whether from a ventilator or from room air) causes ROP, but apnea may also help it along, sending errant brain signals about how the blood vessels should grow. It's my understanding that ROP used to (rather frequently) cause blindness and other severe vision problems in premature babies, but today, about 90% of cases disappear without intervention. Extreme preemies, like Anastasia, are at the highest risk.

There are five stages of ROP, and as I posted last night, stage 3 is when they begin considering laser surgery as a treatment, and everyone hopes permanent injury hasn't been caused to the eye. Most babies with stage 3 ROP will need glasses for nearsightedness. If the ROP progresses to a higher stage, the baby is likely to be legally blind in the affect eye(s). For more about ROP, visit: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/rop/index.asp


November 3, 2005

I have better information about a few things today. I spoke directly with the doctor about Anastasia's ROP. (Previously, my info came from my husband, who heard it from a nurse, who heard it from another nurse.) Anastasia currently does not have stage 3 ROP. She's at stage 2. (Perhaps the confusion was that it's affecting what they call "section three" of her eye.) So the docs will be testing her again within two weeks to ensure that the ROP has not developed further.

In addition, the nurses explained that it's not unusual for Anastasia to have water weight. It's just something that goes along with prematurity. Typically, though, they aren't worried about a baby's ankles getting puffy. They only treat water retention if they suspect it might be a bigger problem than usual - because then it might get into the baby's lungs and affect her breathing. (And nope, not all fluid in the lungs is considered pneumonia.) Fortunately, Anastasia does not appear to have been retaining much fluid, so it shouldn't have been affecting her breathing much.

Ah, it's so nice to be back at the NICU (I can't believe I typed that!), so I can pepper the nurses and doctors with questions!

I must tell you I was shocked at how different Anastasia seemed yesterday. Remember, I was away from her, at home with a cold, for several days. First, she looks different; she's full-term baby size! You would never know she was a preemie. Yesterday she weighed 7 lbs. 3 oz. and when measured last week, was about 17 1/2 inches. She has "newborn" fat rolls and dimples, and yet somehow doesn't look quite so round. Her preemie clothes are really too small now, so today I'll be bringing in some newborn-sized things for her.

But more than that, the way she interacts with the world is so different! She opens her eyes wide - and lets them stay that way for as much as 45 minutes! (Before, we were lucky to see her eyes open for ten minutes, and most of the time, she'd open her eyes only to shut them a minute later.) She's also taken to pouting if a nurse is fussing with her and all she wants to do is sleep. It's pretty dang cute.

Yesterday may have been a big day for me, getting to see my little one again after four days, but it was also big for Anastasia. She drank from her first bottle yesterday morning; it's called a "Haberman," and is often used for extreme preemies because it allows the nurse to control the flow of milk from virtually nothing to a "regular-bottle" flow. Since preemies often have trouble organizing sucking, breathing, and swallowing, this is a real plus. Anastasia took 12 ccs (a little less than half an ounce), which is quite good for an extreme preemie learning to bottle feed. At her noon feed, all she wanted to do was sleep in my arms, but later in the afternoon, she breast fed, taking 4 ccs. Not a very big amount, but breast feeding is a lot more work for a preemie.


November 3 (part II)

I walked into the NICU this morning to discover Anastasia in the middle of getting an X-ray. It seems she'd been having bradys (where she had apnea that lead to a dramatic drop in heart rate) all night and morning long. The X-ray came back fine; her lungs still show chronic lung disease, but there was no fluid or evidence of aspiration, etc. So they took her off the oxygen prongs and put her back on the Vapotherm, which gives a little added breathing support.

When I held her, she did much better, although she still had a few bradys. When her daddy came in and talked to her, she seemed back to her normal self. Her eyes were open and she was obviously enjoying visiting. She only had one brady with her daddy there.

So the question was: Why had her health changed so dramatically since yesterday? I thought of my cold, and the nurses wondered if she had an infection. They did blood work. It came back fine; she doesn't show evidence of an infection. Then one of the nurses, who is also a lactation consultant, said she felt Anastasia had "run a marathon" yesterday. She did a lot of bottle and breast feeding, and each one was a major workout for a preemie with chronic lung disease. Maybe we just over did things.

So, we are in "wait and see" mode. I hope and pray that Anastasia is just fatigued, and therefore was more prone to "forgetting" to breathe. And I sure will be glad when she no longer has apnea and bradys.


November 5, 2005

Anastasia is doing better; she's having fewer bradys and her apnea spells seem to be centered around her feedings - a common thing for preemies. The doctors have lowered her feedings a little, which should also help. They've upped her reflux medicine, which I think will help a lot, too. She's still on the Vapotherm, and it seems our dreams of bringing our baby girl home for Thanksgiving have been dashed. "There's no way she's coming home by her due date, is there?" I asked one of Anastasia's primary nurses. She paused, then answered, "It's unlikely she'll be home by then."

On a lighter note, though, I feel I'm now a full-fledged member of motherhood. Yesterday, poor Anastasia projectile vomited part of her meal all over me...and I didn't even care.

Here are a few pictures, from the 3rd:


November 6, 2005

Last night, Anastasia's reflux seemed worse than ever. Not only was she coughing and gagging all night, but she vomited again. In response, the doctors have stretched each feeding from a half hour to one hour, so her milk is very slowly put into her tummy. They've also cut her milk fortifier in half; she's frequently straining to get gas out of her stomach, and the nurses generally agree the fortifier (which not only helps her grow faster, but protects her bones...apparently, preemies are prone to fractures if not given added calcium) causes gas. When she is straining, of course, her reflux is made worse. So we'll see if any of these things help. This morning the doctor gave us comforting words: "She won't be going to kindergarten with this. Reflux is common in extreme preemies, and she'll probably outgrow it at or around her due date." Most of the preemie books I've read say reflux generally goes away by the first birthday. In the meantime, though, it's very difficult to watch her in such discomfort.

Speaking of Anastasia's due date, next Wednesday she'll be considered "full term!" (Even though pregnancies are considered 40 weeks, a baby born at or after 38 weeks is considered "full term.")


November 8, 2005

Anastasia's reflux seemed much better yesterday. There was no vomiting, and much less coughing and gagging. What a relief! It's too difficult to watch her suffer.

And, despite the fact that her feedings were cut down, yesterday Anastasia weighed 7 lbs. 8 oz.!


November 9, 2005

Anastasia continues on the same path of less reflux and more wakefulness. We just have to be patient, and remember all she's been through. We're praying that her eye exam (next Tuesday) reveals healthy, strong eyes, and that her reflux will disappear altogether. We're also praying that Anastasia's lungs will grow strong, enabling her to breathe easily without the Vapotherm or additional oxygen, and that she learns to eat all of her meals orally, so she can come home as soon as possible. Since a Thanksgiving homecoming seems unlikely at this point, our new goal is Christmas :)

Last night, one of the nurses mentioned that if Anastasia doesn't learn to eat better by the time she is otherwise ready to go home, they might surgically insert a tube into her stomach. I believe Anastasia will be ready to eat when she is breathing better. Let's hope!

Yesterday, our dear girl weighed 7 lbs. 10 oz., and she is beginning to enjoy some of the toys the hospital leant her. Her favorite is a mirror that has flashing lights all around it. How she loves to watch those lights!


November 10, 2005

Anastasia is nearly 7 lbs. 14 oz. today. At birth, Anastasia's head was 10 1/4 inches; now it's a little over 13 inches. (She grows out of her hats before she grows out of other clothes.) Her length at birth was 13 3/8 inches, and now it's 18 1/2 inches. It's hard for some folks to believe Anastasia was ever a 1 lb. 13 oz. preemie!

Our girl was scheduled for a hearing test today, but in one of those mix-ups that happens when a message gets passed from person to person, it turned out they couldn't do a test while she's still on the Vapotherm. Happily, though, she continues to need less oxygen on the Vapotherm. Several times, she's been at room oxygen...although only for minutes. Typically, she is just above. She is only having bradys while she's being fed, which is considered typical, and an advancement from having them at other times.

I asked some of the nurses why they felt Anastasia wasn't coming off the Vapotherm more quickly, since she was on ordinary oxygen prongs for quite a while. They felt she'd been ready for the Vapotherm for a while...I know what they mean. On oxygen prongs, she had to work much harder to breathe. Her head would bob as she took breaths, and her chest contracted much more, exposing her ribs. In other words, perhaps we were pushing her along before she was ready.

For about a week now, I've been doing "range of motion" exercises with Anastasia. These were assigned to her by an occupational therapist - not because there's anything wrong with our baby, but because the staff wants to encourage her development. The exercises consist of simple movements where her arms and legs are stretched up and down. I do them after I give her a little massage, and before trying to feed her orally. I call them her "Jane Fonda's," and most of the time, I think she finds them fun. Occasionally, she looks like she'd rather be doing other things; for example, yesterday I'd been holding her, and when I put her in her crib to do the exercises, she was wide-eyed, her forehead wrinkled and her mouth frowning. I had to laugh, because she looked just like her daddy when he's grumpy!

Most of the time, though, she's a little angel.


November 12, 2005

We had a joyous morning with our girl today. My hubby held her for the longest he's been able to for a while, and then we had fun "playing."

Some time ago, my mother bought Anastasia a beautiful burgundy and pink "Christmas" dress in a preemie size. Clearly, we didn't expect Anastasia to grow as quickly as she has! I thought I'd better put her in the outfit and take a picture before she outgrow the dress...so, today we did it. Oh my, did she look even more adorable than usual!  Many of the nurses stopped to ooh and ahhh over her, and the cleaning ladies couldn't help taking a peek, either. I had to laugh as one little East African housekeeper's eyes grew wide and her mouth dropped. "She looks like the Queen of England!" she exclaimed. Even the doctors got into the act; Anastasia's neonatologist dropped by to say how cute she was, and one of my perintologists had to take a peek. I took about a hundred pictures; here is just one:

It was difficult to get Anastasia into the outfit. With her nurse's permission, I had to temporarily unhook her leads that track her heart rate and breathing, as well as her pulse-ox, which tracks her blood oxygen levels. Better that than unhooking her Vapotherm - although the nurse gave me permission to do that (briefly) if I wanted to. (I didn't take her up on that.) Once dressed, Anastasia had to be "hooked up" again. You might think all this would make Anastasia cranky, but I think she enjoyed all the attention. She was wide-eyed and interested in all the goings-on.

For the photos, we placed Anastasia on a very special quilt that one of her nurses made for her. When my husband and I were first married, I'd bought some fabric with printed panels of nursery rhymes, "just in case." I'd wanted to make a little quilt out of the panels while I was pregnant, but you can understand why that didn't work out. And now, I just don't have the time to sew. Knowing that one of Anastasia's primary nurses was a quilter, I asked if she'd have the time and inclination to do something with the fabric. I would have been happy to pay her, but she wanted to make it as a gift. The end result was beyond my greatest expectations! What an heirloom!

After the photo session, I left her in the pink bodysuit and socks worn beneath her dress and let her chow down. She stayed awake and nursed (off and on) for over a half hour...the longest ever.

By the way, our girl is now - get this! - 8 lbs. 1 oz.! She's only had one brady in two days, and it was caused by some reflux shortly after a feeding. This is excellent improvement.


November 15, 2005

Yesterday was another encouraging day, all the way around. More and more, Anastasia is breathing room air...and even high sating as she does! As she does periodically, Anastasia had a bad case of hiccups yesterday - but instead of making her desat badly, as they usually do, her blood oxygen levels stayed in a good range. She also continues to bottle feed up to half of her required amount, several times a day. She is more and more wakeful and interested in the world around her.

Beginning today, Anastasia is going off her caffeine (again). The doctors hope that she no longer needs the stimulation to "remember" to breathe. This morning, I was wondering if lack of caffeine might also help her reflux, and today the doctor brought this up on his own initiative. It might, indeed. Every little thing we can do to make her reflux better is a good thing.

Sometime today, Anastasia will also have another eye exam. We are anxious to hear if her ROP is disappearing, remaining the same, or getting worse.


November 17, 2005

There is good news today. Anastasia passed her hearing test, no problem. This didn't surprise us too much, since she readily reacts to our voices.  She's also been lowered to the bottom Vapotherm setting, and seems to be tolerating it well. Hopefully, soon she'll be back on oxygen prongs and off Vapotherm forever!


November 19, 2005

Anastasia has now been in the NICU for exactly 100 days. She continues to breathe well on her low Vapotherm setting, and I'm hoping I can talk the doctors into giving her another eye exam this week, instead of waiting until next week. I'm concerned that waiting two weeks between exams may allow Anastasia's ROP to go places we definitely don't want it to go...


November 21, 2005

After several days of leaving messages for the ophthalmologist who saw Anastasia, and not getting my calls returned, I talked to several of Anastasia's neonatologists. We agreed that the doctor on duty this morning would call another ophthalmologist, read Anastasia's last eye exam report to him, and get an opinion about whether more immediate action needs to take place. I realize they are going to all this trouble to humor me, but it does make me feel better. Also, the doctor mentioned yesterday that the affected area of Anastasia's eyes is considered "low risk." That is comforting, too, and I wish I had known this earlier. The team of neonatologists has been very understanding about my concerns, and I so appreciate the fact that they never just "blow me off."

Anastasia is doing pretty well on her new, low Vapotherm setting. However, her nurses and I have noticed that her breathing is slightly more labored than it was on higher settings. While I'm anxious to see her off the Vapotherm, it looks like she needs more time with the machine's added support.

As our girl nears her original due date, she gets more and more like a full term baby. She can be wide awake and alert for an hour or more...but waking her up takes at least a half hour. I can just see those school day mornings now...


November 21, 2005 (part II)

I've been meaning to post about breastfeeding for a number of days now; many of you have written, asking how it's going. First, my milk supply did pop back up - I was so excited because it reached an all-time high. But a few days later, it plummeted again. It's very frustrating, but the lactation consultants at the NICU remind me that I'm fortunate. They say many moms of preemies loose their milk supply within a month, and that with everything I had against me (never making it to my third trimester, a C-section, all the stress and fatigue of the NICU experience, etc.), I should feel good about my supply. It's almost not enough for Anastasia right now, but I do have several large bags of milk stored in the NICU's freezer.

In an effort to up my milk supply, I'm taking Blessed Thistle, in addition to my usual Fenugreek. I'll tentatively say that taking both herbs seems to be helping, because my milk supply began inching up as soon as I started the Thistle.

(I also have to add that there's another mom in the NICU with 27 week twins who's being lectured on how to decrease her milk supply so her babies get not just watery foremilk, but also fatty hind milk. Yes, I am a little jealous!)

While Anastasia is doing well with her bottle feeding (she takes the bottle several times a day, drinking about half her feeding), it's difficult to get her to really transfer any milk while breastfeeding. She likes being at breast, but typically, she'll just lay there, not sucking. She tends to fall asleep in my arms, despite the fact that I try to keep her cool (no blankets or hat), and awake (often by tickling her). Sometimes, she'll be awake enough that she sucks, but the rest intervals are much longer than the sucking intervals. I think the most she's ever transferred is about 4 ccs...Not very much. But, I'm reminded that breast feeding is really tough for preemies; it's hard work, and they don't have the endurance for it. And Anastasia's chronic lung disease makes the job even more difficult, so lots of patience is required.

I spoke recently with the occupational therapist who sees Anastasia, and she assured me that our girl is very much capable of breast feeding. It will just take a while for it all to fall into place. In fact, all the nurses say it's likely Anastasia will have to learn to breastfeed full time once she is home (not in the NICU).


November 23, 2005

A drum roll, please! Today is what one of Anastasia's primary nurses calls her "woulda shoulda birthday," otherwise known as her due date.

We have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it makes us a little sad, because we'd so hoped Anastasia would be home by now. (These days, it's unusual for a preemie not to be home by her due date.) It also makes us realize that we can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to have a "normal" pregnancy and delivery.

On the other hand, I can hardly imagine just meeting my daughter face-to-face today. We've had the rare privilege of seeing her grow from very early on. Also, we are reminded how fortunate we really are. Today is a day to rejoice that we have Anastasia.

So I'm approaching the NICU today with a sense of celebration. I have a special outfit picked out for Anastasia, and I plan to take lots of pictures. She is such a sweet little babe.

Yesterday, she weighed nearly 8 lbs. 13 oz., although one of the doctors mentioned that we want to slow her weight gain down a bit, so her lungs can catch up.  She's on room air most of the day, usually only needing extra oxygen when she's eating. (A full tummy makes it more difficult to breathe.) She still has reflux, but she's learning to handle it better; she self-recovers, and it seems to trouble her a bit less. Little by little she is taking more by bottle, too.

Yesterday, we tried a new way of breast feeding called "SS" or "Supplemental System." We taped a very small feeding tube to my skin, which allowed Anastasia to get more milk more quickly, thereby encouraging her in her efforts. It probably would have helped, too, except that yesterday, she fell asleep almost immediately after she got into my arms.

There's also good news about Anastasia's ROP. One of our girl's neonatologists tracked down the ophthalmologist, and asked him to explain Anastasia's current eye condition a bit better. He said that Stage 3 ROP at Anastasia's level of maturity is actually less dangerous than Stage 2 ROP when she was younger. This is because the retina is larger, more mature, and more resistant. He said that normally, under the circumstances, he'd see the baby again after three weeks, but he was choosing to see her two weeks from her last appointment "just to be sure." Finally, he said Anastasia has a 90% chance of having perfectly normal eyes - without surgery. Excellent news!

Yesterday, we also spoke with Anastasia's occupational therapist. My husband was the first to notice that our baby's left leg tended to point outward. We decided we should run this past the expert, who, after examining Anastasia, concluded it wasn't anything to worry about. Apparently, the muscles of our girl's left hip and ankle are a bit "loose," but they can do a good job of holding the leg and foot straight out, too. As long as the ability to hold the leg correctly is there, no splints or other aids are necessary. More excellent news.


November 23, 2005 (part II)

When I walked into the NICU this afternoon, I was greeted by this:

One of Anastasia's primary nurses arranged for a little "birthday" party. (She also named the day Anastasia's "Woulda Coulda Birthday.") She baked a yummy cake, decorated Anastasia's crib with a birthday sign, and arranged to have presents. Sooo sweet! Some other nurses gave Anastasia books, and our party-arranging nurse gave Anastasia some cute homemade bibs. Many of the nurses and one of the doctors also signed a card for our now "full term" baby.

It made what could have been a sad day, a very sweet one!

I also dressed Anastasia in a special outfit, given by some friends of mine. Once again, I took about a million photos, but here is a sampling:

I also bottle fed Anastasia for the first time today; she did great, taking more than half her feeding.


November 25, 2005

Last night, when I called the NICU to check on Anastasia, I got a nice Thanksgiving surprise. Between the time we saw her in the morning, and the time we arrived home after a family Thanksgiving meal, she'd been taken off the Vapotherm machine and put on ordinary oxygen prongs! I was both excited and nervous, but when we saw Anastasia this morning, breathing room air while on oxygen prongs, we were so pleased.

The nurses also asked if we'd mind if they moved Anastasia to the downstairs unit - a unit that's used exclusively for babies who are nearing the "going home" stage. It's still just talk, but it got my heart pitter patting! Besides, if they keep our girl much longer, the weight chart that one of her nurses maintains for her is going to require a whole lot more wall space! Anastasia is now 9 lbs.!


November 26, 2005

When the doctor called this morning, he confirmed that Anastasia is being moved downstairs today. He feels her breathing is going very well (she's mostly on room air) and that she'll soon be taking all of her feedings orally. In other words, she'll be going home soon!


November 27, 2005

This morning, Anastasia took her first full feeding by bottle! The doctor sounded a little giddy as he related the news to us; he also said they'd be putting Anastasia on a cannula. Basically, they'll cut the prongs off her oxygen tube and just allow the oxygen to blow into her face. So, at 108 days old (or 5 days, corrected age), Anastasia is (God willing) nearly off her oxygen!

Yesterday, we were scrubbing in at the NICU just as Anastasia's crib started rolling by. The nurses invited us to join them as they took a sleeping Anastasia onto the elevator and checked her in downstairs. She has a private room again, separated from a larger room only by a glass wall and a curtain. Other than the size and the privacy level, it looks very similar to her old section of the upstairs pod...except Anastasia has a TV, now :) Actually, the room is part of the pediatric ward, and has additional security. For example, Anastasia has a bracelet around her ankle (just like Martha Stewart!), which locks down her section of the hospital and sets off alarms if its removed from her leg, or if she is moved past certain doors.

I suppose I don't really mind the change of scenery, although it doesn't allow for being as social as the old, more crowded pod. My main concern was that Anastasia's nurses - who have been with her forever and know her well - move with her; and yes, they have.

When Anastasia woke from her nap, she looked around, understanding she was in a new location. But although she's spent her whole life on the second floor of the hospital, her new pod didn't seem to bother her. All her old stuff was still handy (from her mobile to her special quilts)...and of course mom and dad were nearby, too.

In the meantime, my husband and I are in a state of excitement and fear. Excited by the prospect of our girl finally coming home, but also scared to death she might need a doctor or nurse once she's there. And though it may seem crazy, we don't feel ready for her arrival. Her nursery isn't quite done, and I have so much cleaning to do. But really, I'm not sure whether to clean or sleep!

In her new surroundings.


November 30, 2005

Anastasia seems to be holding her own with the cannula; often, she's still on room air. When she's tired or eating, she needs what amounts to just a whiff of oxygen. She's alert more often, looking around at her world eagerly. Yesterday, she was awake for hours at a time, wiggling, babbling just a little, and just enjoying herself. It is so good for my heart!

She is taking all but one or two feedings by bottle, although she hasn't taken another entire feeding orally. (That's to be expected, though.) She isn't very interested in breast feeding right now; she gets too excited and doesn't want to focus. She even seems to look around for her bottle instead. But, if I'm patient that will change. One lactation consultant told me that on average, a baby born at Anastasia's gestation of 25 weeks won't learn to breast feeding consistently until about 40 weeks corrected age. (40 weeks after her due date, that is.) I am getting pretty tired of my breast pump...but, when I put it in perspective, it is so worth it.

Two days ago Anastasia had what is presumably her last head ultrasound; this time, instead of checking for brain bleeds, they were looking for development. The neonatologists say everything looks perfectly normal to them. Our girl also had another eye exam yesterday. It was a little sad, because she'd just awakened, and was wide-eyed (despite her dilated eyes) and ready to eat. Then the ophthalmologist came. I left the room for a few minutes, and when I came back, Anastasia's eyes were red and puffy. (But, after a few more minutes, she was still ready to eat.) The doctor said one of Anastasia's eyes had improved, and in the other, the ROP had not progressed. This is great news, and we pray that by her next appointment (in two weeks), both eyes will have healed even more.

Everyone keeps asking me: "When is she coming home?" Well, that is the question of the moment, but there's no way to answer it well. It all depends on Anastasia. Once she can eat all of her meals by bottle or breast, she can go home. She's well on her way to doing that, and I heard a whispered rumor that perhaps she might be leaving in a week or so. I told the nurses that I insist she be ready to come home by Christmas :)