|A monkey face to match her monkey outfit|
Well, as you all know, Madeline was born at 35 weeks and she was in the NICU for about 2 days. She was on oxygen for a little while, and they also had her on an IV for fluids. They also had her hooked up to all kinds of monitors, but those were just standard NICU monitors. Since I was out of commission for about 12 hours after the surgery, they were giving her formula until I could get down to the NICU and start breastfeeding. They had her on a feeding tube too since she was such a poky eater, but when she made it abundantly clear that she very much preferred breast milk, the NICU staff removed the tube and actually discharged her a little bit earlier than they were planning. Their logic was that they wanted to make it as easy and accessible as possible for me to breastfeed and it really was a lot easier to do that once she was in the room with us. The NICU visits really took a lot out of me between getting out of bed and having to sit upright for the hour-ish long visit, so it was much easier once I could lay in bed and feed her.
|I love those little hands!|
We also got to visit with the NICU Lactation Consultant at the hospital which was SO helpful. We never really needed help with Anna, but the LC helped us figure out the syringe solution to her sleepy, slow eating. She also gave us a very detailed, day-by-day guide to how many wet and dirty diapers to look for, how often we should be shooting to nurse, etc.
The NICU at the hospital seemed really nice. Our hospital had a Level III NICU and all of the nurses were fantastic. The other thing that was interesting about it was that the NICU was a locked unit - there were three or four "buzz in" points where you either had to have a badge to get through the door, or you had to get buzzed in from the NICU staff after they verified your identity. They also had an elaborate hand washing station outside of the final door, and they always asked once you got inside if you had washed your hands. Once Madeline got discharged from the NICU, she wore a security bracelet around her ankle that would alert the staff if anyone tried to take her out of the unit. Anna had that bracelet too but it looked massive tied around Maddie's little ankle!!
|Auntie Ally came to visit and meet her newest niece!|
One thing that the NICU emphasized for us was how grateful we were that Madeline made it to 35 weeks. We ran into several of the other NICU mommies that had been coming there for weeks, and it made us feel kind of guilty when we told them that Madeline was only going to be there for a couple of days. Which I know is silly - the other moms were nothing but nice! We met one NICU mommy who was walking in holding a big bag of baby clothes, and she told us that her son had been born at 27 weeks, weighing just about a pound and a half. He was 34 weeks when we met her and I cannot even fathom having to be away from my baby for 7+ weeks like that. NICU mommies, you definitely have a ton of respect from Steve and me!!!!
|Holding each others' babies - little cousins!|
Our other big blessing was that Miss Maddie was born very healthy. The nurses and doctors did keep emphasizing that we were lucky she was born healthy, and now it's our job to make sure we KEEP her healthy. Preemies still have developing systems and weakened immune systems, so prevention is the key to success with them! They gave me a pertussis booster vaccine in the hospital and they strongly recommended that anyone else who was going to be around her frequently get one too (it's on Steve's to-do list!). The doctor advised us to avoid taking Maddie out and about for at least a month, especially to crowded places like the grocery store or Target (which is maybe a good thing, haha). Hand washing is incredibly important, especially before picking her up or touching her, and we also have to take her temperature pretty frequently to make sure she isn't too hot or cold. I am also under orders to let her breastfeed as much as we can, although I do think that's pretty typical for a newborn - I don't remember getting too many breaks with Anna!
Pretty much the only complication we've had since coming home is that Madeline did get pretty jaundiced. She was looking yellow at the hospital, but her bilirubin levels were in the normal range, so the NICU pediatrician just said to make sure to get in with our regular pediatrician as soon as possible once we got home. Sure enough, at the pediatrician appointment, her levels had grown really high (and she was VERY yellow), so we have spent the last two days with Maddie on a light bed contraption called a BiliBed. Basically she just lies on it in her diaper, and it gives her phototherapy to help get the bilirubin levels down. Madeline didn't seem to mind it all that much and we made sure to give her breaks every couple of hours to feed her and change her diaper and play with her a little bit. We've had to go to the pediatrician every day so they can check her levels (which involves a painful little heel prick), and we got the great news today that they've gone down enough to cautiously stop the BiliBed treatment. They want us to hang on to the bed one more day and we have to go back in the morning to check her levels one more time, but we're all hopeful that her body will start bringing down the levels on its own and we can be done with the light bed!
Other than the jaundice, we are all doing well. Madeline is gaining weight like a champ - 4 lbs 8 ounces today! Anna Bean is coming home tomorrow and I am excited - I miss her so much and I am looking forward to getting settled down as our happy little family of four.