One Month Old
Henry Harold - One Month Old, 4 lbs. 4 oz. - and a very sick little fellow indeed.
Eli Derek - 4 lbs. - growing and thriving.
Ella holds Eli. She loves holding her baby brothers! She often asks, "Are Eli and Henry ever coming home?" We all look forward to that day!
Henry has had a rough time of it in the last week and a half. He had a bacterial infection in his bowels, resulting in a lot of blood in his feces. So he was separated from Eli, put on antibiotics and an IV (for food) and they stopped feeding him breast milk. A week later, when they resumed his feedings (albeit, smaller doses) the problem seemed to have resolved completely. He'd had several bowel movements with no blood. That night (Saturday) we'd heaved a sigh of relief and went home.
Shortly before midnight we were rung by the on-call paediatrician who told us that Henry had been having frequently repeated apnea episodes. Basically, his heart rate would slow down significantly and his breathing would stop. For a couple hours his nurse couldn't leave his side, constantly having to stimulate him to start his breathing again. These apnea episodes are not uncommon in premature infants, but since Henry had never had any episodes before, and he was only two days away from being a month old, they knew something else was causing this.
He was intubated (put on a respirator to keep him breathing) and he had a lumbar puncture (spinal tap), blood work, and stool samples taken. The doctor suspected a blood infection of some sort and he wanted to rule out meningitis. At issue was that the test results would take from 24 to 48 hours to come back which would give the infection (whatever it was) that much time to spread. So they began him on two strong antibiotics. Derek and I packed an overnight bag, woke Ella (who was less than pleased with the sleep interruption) and went to my parents' to drop her off. Then we headed to the hospital.
We arrived at 3:30 am, scrubbed in (standard procedure for the NICU) and went to see our boys. Henry was white as parchment, despite having been on the respirator for a couple hours. Evidently his hemoglobin was low as well. He was definitely a very sick little fellow. We stayed overnight (if you can call a four hour sleep "overnight") and most of the next day. There was a snow storm coming, so Derek left to go to Mum's so he could be with Ella and I stayed with Eli and Henry. We didn't want to be stuck at the hospital and unable to get to Ella and we didn't want to end up stuck at home and unable to get to the boys, so splitting up made sense.
Henry began to improve while on the respirator and antibiotics and the test results came back that he did not have meningitis but another kind of blood infection: gram positive cocci (commonly known as a staph infection or staphylococcal sepsis), which is pretty nasty, but not as nasty as meningitis. He began to get his colour back, at least somewhat, and by the time I left the hospital (Tuesday afternoon) he was much improved, off the respirator, and energetic enough to put up a fuss from 3:30 am to 5:00 am. Needless to say, I'm exhausted!
So we're all heaving a sigh of relief that the antibiotics are working, that he continues to improve (his nurse told me he's getting very active again), and that he's again able to have regular feedings of breast milk.
One of the nice side-effects of me being in the neonatal unit so long is that Eli got to do a lot of breastfeeding, establishing his ability at nursing very well. He still doesn't have quite enough energy to take all of his feedings that way, but he could take several feedings or half-feedings a day that way. And he was able to be transferred from an isolette to a regular cot. So now he's wearing real clothes and as long as he's well bundled up he's able to maintain his own heat. Occasionally he has gotten a little bit cool, but I told him if he'd only keep his hat on that wouldn't be such an issue!
It will be a glorious day when both boys are well enough to come home from the hospital. Until then we continue to do a lot of travelling back and forth to Mum's and to the hospital. It's tiring and stressful, but we keep reminding ourselves that, in general, the boys are doing well and that this too shall pass.
A humorous side-note:
On the night we rushed to the hospital, first dropping Ella off at Mum and Dad's, Ella evidently woke up a bit confused early in the morning. According to Mum she sat straight up in bed, looked around, and asked, "What is going on here?" Mum reminded her about Henry's illness and she laid back down and fell asleep again almost immediately!