Since Avie was born we have been looking at her through plastic. In order to touch her or change her diaper we had to stick our arms through the portholes on the isolette. With the exception of the times we got to hold her, which only really started recently, our view of Baby Avie was always obstructed. That is until this past Friday evening.
The day had gotten off to a hectic start. Robin and I were busy taking care of chores around the house that had been put on hold since the shock of our lives had begun, and before long it was evident that we weren’t going to make it to the hospital for our normal morning visit. Robin called in to let the nurse know that we would be there in the afternoon and the nurse told her that it was no problem. Within an hour we realized that we weren’t even going to make it until the evening.
Our arrival in the evening was much like it usually is. We were greeted by other NICU families and the secretaries. But then we were approached by Maggie, the dear cleaning lady. Maggie doesn’t speak much English but we have almost always been able to communicate with her. Her bright smile is almost always there for at least one of our visits each day and she has worn a Tiny Warrior bracelet since they arrived. When we saw her she smiled and said something that sounded like she was saying that Avie looks like Robin in her bed. Neither of us could quite make out what she was saying until she put it another way, “the baby looks like in a bed.”
Something clicked and the light bulb in my head suddenly illuminated. “Our baby’s in a bed?” I asked excitedly. The nodding of Maggie’s head confirmed that we were now understanding what she had been trying to convey. Robin and I began sprinting down the hallway.
Only a few weeks prior the nurse had told us that Avie might have a hard time with the transition to an open crib due to her potential inability to regulate her own body temperature. But the time had come for the test and if the little one was going to make it she might as well begin the test now. The nurse that was caring for her that evening came over and smiled as Robin and I, tears filling our eyes, took pictures and looked around the crib in the same way that a child who has asked Santa Claus for a new bike still has to examine the one under the tree on Christmas morning before he believes that he really has gotten his wish. We embraced each other, then the nurse. Then we reached into the crib and each of us put our hands on the little bundle of blankets swaddling our baby girl. Finally we would be able to lean into Avie’s bed to kiss her even when we wouldn’t be able to hold her.
The nurse smiled and told us that Avery’s day nurse had moved her at around 2:00 pm and that she seemed to be tolerating the move well and regulating her temperature fairly well. As an ominous reminder of the possibility that this first attempt might not be successful, just like most other progressions that she had made (CPAP, removal of the replogle, increased feeds, nasal cannula), Avie’s isolette was still sitting only feet away from her spot. I assured the nurse that I could make sure that she stayed warm enough with my expert swaddling skills. She laughed and then told us that the day nurse had ensured that she (night nurse) would be set for when we started crying by placing tissues next to Avie’s new bed.
Since Friday, Avery has been able to maintain her body temperature and as of right now there seems to be no plan to move her back to the isolette. I still wonder though, if being in the open crib is for the best. While I am excited to see the progress, happy to no longer have an obstruction, and feel closer when I am visiting her, I do worry a bit about the noise. As we’ve explained and most anyone could guess, the NICU can be quite busy and thus can get very loud at times. To a degree I am concerned with how that will affect her ability to rest, both now and when she comes home. I worry that with the bustling activity in the room she might be startled and unable to sleep. And I worry that after she comes home she might have become so used to the activity that it becomes hard for her to sleep in a quiet space. One thing seems certain now though, it doesn’t seem like Maddie playing in her room will upset Avie’s sleep time too much.
Today, October 26, is Avery’s official three month mark. With this morning’s visit I received quite a bit of news, good and bad. Because I have always been one that likes to receive the good news first, I shall also share the good news first.
Although the complete results will not be known for another few weeks, Avery’s eyes have responded as well as can be expected to the laser surgery. Her respiration continues to improve with only minor set backs here and there.
And, drums please – Avery officially weighed in at four pounds today. That means that she has gained just shy of three pounds in the past three months.
Now for the unfortunate small bit of bad news. The speech therapist visited Avery today and although she seems to have at least part of the triangle of feeding (suck, swallow, and breathe) down, they still don’t think that she is quite ready to begin breast or bottle feeding. While this news hit me hard, I was reminded by the wonderfully compassionate nurse that Avery still isn’t even supposed to be here yet. When she’s ready she’ll let us know.