This is how the Doctors start their rounds. With the day of life. I like it. It segments things for me and makes me take a quick stock in all of their days, the good, the bad, the great and the awful. If they were to say, “Three months” I think it would feel longer than 90 days, as if it were a huge chunk of time, not 90 individual days. Not too sure why, but to me 90 days seems less than three months. Three months in a hospital seems too long.
Carter’s 89th day of life wasn’t his best. After watching his eye development very closely the pediatric ophthalmologist decided he required surgery to correct his retinopathy. Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is pretty common in babies born so early and we weren’t surprised the first time we learned that Carter had stage 3 and Griffin stage 2 ROP. When the boys were born their blood vessels in their eyes were only 33% developed. They continued to grow around the eye, however things like Oxygen and general life outside the womb stunts their growth. The retina continues to grow even though it doesn’t have any blood vessels to make it functional. This causes the retina to send out a harmful chemical into the eye telling it to grow vessels. Resulting in abnormal vessel growth that if left untreated would grow into the eye instead of around it and cause blindness. So, if they think the ROP is getting worse and not better they perform laser eye surgery to get rid of the chemical-shooting, non-functioning retina – freeing up space for normal vessels to grow. Carter will never have the range of peripheral vision like you and I but he won’t know since he never had it to begin with. Both boys will require glasses, but we won’t know at what age and what strength until they get older. So the eye center will be one of our frequent stops upon discharge as we transfer over to raising former preemies. Carter’s eyes were what was keeping him in the NICU and now that they are taken care of we hope to have him home soon. My main concern is that he needed to be put on a ventilator for the three-hour surgery. Two days later he is still recovering from the sedation, and slowly waking up to begin breathing on his own again. It was hard to see, of course – nobody wants their child to go through a surgery, but I’m glad we extended his stay in the NICU so he could have it there, where people know him and we trust the staff. But it was a set back, and these wear on us after 90 days in the NICU.
Griffin’s 86th day of life wasn’t his best. He has always been a baby that drops his heart rate and doesn’t always eat well, caused by severe reflux, but early last week Tim and Griffin’s nurse noticed a change for the worse. Thanks to our nurse who knew our boys they quickly diagnosed him with another UTI and started antibiotics. So it was back in an isolette, and an IV in his head for antibiotics. He is on the upswing now but they are thinking he may have something called uterine reflux. He is unable to completely empty his bladder so it will continue to get backed up and grow bacteria. Again, not too uncommon for preemies. When he finishes his course of antibiotics they will do another test to check for reflux then form a plan of action from there. This could be simply watching him closely as he grows, daily antibiotics or worst case scenario corrective surgery.
But on their 90th day of life the boys are continuing to grow and mature! Carter is nearing 6 pounds and is visibly bigger than his older brother who hasn’t gained much weight during his latest sickness. After three weeks of solid gains for both boys it is the minor set backs at the end of our NICU stay that are hard to take. It is that rollercoaster analogy coming back to us. The cars can’t keep climbing the track for the whole ride. At some point they have to come down.
Hopefully, Carter’s 93rd day of life will be the day he comes home. But I will celebrate that on Monday, if it happens. Griffin will have to wait until his 100 + day until he can consider coming home. But if I keep thinking of it in terms of days, not weeks, I know we can make it.