Three Pounds and an Eye Exam

Just over three pounds, and counting.

Today Avie had her first eye exam. When we arrived at the hospital, somewhat earlier than usual as we had to take Maddie to school and therefore were already fairly close to the hospital, we saw that there was a bright yellow blanket draped over her isolette. Robin and I both went into defensive mode, slightly afraid that she had been moved again, but the sign on the monitor was the same and so we smiled. Lifting the blanket we noticed that there was a new blanket inside as well. It was soon evident to us who her nurse for the day was-a wonderful, caring soul who tries to make our NICU experience more similar to real life.

But then we saw the eye shields. For those who have never witnessed the spectacle that is the NICU, imagine a piece of foam that is cut to the rough shape of glasses with a velcro strap that fastens in the back of the head-eye shields. We had not seen these on Avie since right after her eyes opened and the phototherapy lights were removed from her isolette. We were obviously confused. It was then explained to us that Avie was going to have her first eye exam and that drops had been administered to dilate her pupils. For anyone that has never had their pupils dilated, it makes one’s eyes very sensitive to light so the shields were put in place to help comfort her. Before long it was Avery’s turn. I threw everything that I had (verbally) at the doctor who was going to conduct the exam. (I could have found a great many things to throw physically, and thought of doing so, but feared the repercussions of such, perceivably, hostile actions.)

“I’ve already done it and she is 20/20,” I was trying to stop him.

“That’s not what we’re looking for,” he replied with a somewhat Steve Buscemi looking smile. He then told me that they were checking for R.O.P. I’ll have to learn more about this one myself, but I then said, “I already checked for that, too. She’s good.” They weren’t buying it at all and asked if we wanted to stay to witness the exam. We couldn’t stand to watch, so Robin and I made our way to the waiting area.

Within minutes we were advised by the receptionist that the exam was over and we could go back in. At the isolette we were told that Avie appeared to be okay. She of course was unhappy with having her eyes forced open, and fought the nurse’s hands, but most importantly her eyes seemed to be okay for the time being. As is the world with preemies, this can all change tomorrow, but for now we’re going to run with what we’ve received.

While visiting with Avery, though, we heard the cries of the other babies that were going through the exams, including another baby girl who is right next to Avie, who also has a butterfly next to her name. As was mentioned by one of the readers of this blog who also lost a twin during their stay in the same NICU, a butterfly is a symbol of the loss and is placed on the bed or door of the baby that has lost a sibling. Butterflies have taken a new meaning for us. These cries became too much for us to handle so we decided to leave.

While we were at home I received a phone call from a true warrior, a mother of twins who experienced many of the same things that Robin did with pre-term labor and thus had her twins delivered early. This family spent time in a NICU and has gone through many of the same worst case scenario discussions that we have. But on top of that she, as I learned today, broke her leg at fourteen weeks of gestation and didn’t even know until then that she was having twins, then spent time on bed rest for the leg injury before being placed back on bed rest after learning that she was in pre-term labor. For many people all of this bed rest would seem wonderful, but for an active duty fighter pilot who, based on her career, has to keep her self in shape all of the time I’m sure it was absolute torture. Suddenly my hand being re-casted for another two weeks seems insignificant.

This super-woman explained to me that she had taken part in the remembrance of a young boy, a twin, who was lost to cancer and that during the ceremony which spanned the globe, blue and gold balloons were sent to the skies with a note attached so that people who found the balloons would also be able to find the story of the young boy by the website his family had created. In honor of Sienna Grace this wonderful soul also released a pink balloon, with our website attached, to the sky. I am honored that she would be so thoughtful as to do such a thing and then send me pictures of the event.

As Avery Rose continues to fight her way through these tough times I ask that all of you who read this not only continue to pray for her but also for all of the other babies who are in the fights of (for) their lives. Francessca, Andrew, Andrey, Isaiah, Nathaniel, Star-Lilly, Donovan, Layla, and Riley are just a few names that come to mind. In our NICU alone there are approximately ninety-five others. And please continue to pray for the families of these babies, families who go through the worst of times all the while trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy. Finally I ask that all of you with healthy children never take the lives of your babies for granted and that those of you who continue to fight in the NICU never quit.

Avery is now just over three pounds and counting. She continues her fight.

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8 Responses to Three Pounds and an Eye Exam

  1. Yeah Avery!! 3 Pounds is great!

    I just wanted to tell you not to worry to much about ROP. If it gets bad enough, they will fix it right away. The Great Potato (my preemie)’s eyes got much worse in the NICU but not bad enough to fix, and then they got better! So he has no ROP.

    However, because of the oxygen requirements and preemie issues, he still has strabismus (crossed eyes) and nystagmus (shaky eyes) and far sightedness. At 18 mos., he wears very thick glasses and in October will be visiting Fairfax to have surgeries to correct the crossing. So, don’t worry so much about ROP. Yes, the procedure hurts like a monster, but it is easily treatable.

    Worry about what the nursery will look like when you bring her home. That’s much more fun!!!!!!

    Sarah & The Great Potato

  2. Bernie and Heidi Dolobach says:

    So happy to hear of THREE POUNDS!!!! Yes, just what we’ve been hoping for! Glad to hear all was well with the eye test, I think you will continue to get good results from many tests that are performed! Can’t wait to see her wear her 5lb pumpkin costume for halloween! Great news all around today, Keep On Keepin’ On, see you all soon! Love Ya! Give our baby girl a kiss and tell her we love her!

  3. Sarah and Joaquin says:

    That is such good news! We love you Avery!

  4. Angel Roggenkamp says:

    Three pounds and fighting. I am so touched by the one pink balloon. That is amazing to hear someone did that for Sienna. I am praying for all the babies. I pray harder for Avery and as I said before I always say a very special prayer for Sienna to keep Avery safe. Please know my walk I am doing is for you, Robin, our family, and most of all for Avery and Sienna

  5. Diane Sheridan says:

    I have to agree with Angel, the pink balloon for Sienna Grace is a wonderful tribute to her. I am happy to hear that Avery is over 3 lbs. and growing all the while being poked and prodded on a daily basis. Thank goodness she won’t remember all of the grueling days in the NICU. I often tell Brooke about some of her experiences when she was in there, but many go untold even though I remember. I didn’t know about the butterfly and its significance but it makes sense to me. I also feel that Sienna is still in the arms of Jesus and they both are giving Avery strength and stamina to get through each day and to continue to grow bigger and more beautiful. Prayers all around for all of you.

  6. Suzanne Shutty says:

    Thanks for sharing the special meaning of the butterfly. Interesting that in the last month or so there have been an unusual number of beautiful butterflies all over Old Town. I’m sure neither of you have had a chance to get outside and notice that, but every day Ruby and I would follow the fluttering butterflies on our walks. I’ll now remember all the lost twins, especially Sienna Grace, each time I see a beautiful butterfly.

  7. Lily says:

    Dear Quintin and Robin
    First of all thank you so much for baby Kalela’s beautiful gift: she sends you much love!
    Thank you so much for the ribbons (that I will now wear till Baby Avie goes home! You are with no doubt in our everyday prayers! Yes, our tiny warriors will come home soon! We have special envoy up in heaven and they are looking after our little ones!

    Much love from Ez & I

  8. Donna Looney says:

    Good morning! Just want you to know we read your blog every day and little Avery is always in our prayers… your blog is so uplifting… and I am thrilled with Avery’s progress. We miss you Robin! And look forward to seeing you — and your precious baby –soon. Donna

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