The day after Sebastian came off the Ventilator was one of the most special days for me. When I showed up at the hospital in the morning, I asked about when I might get to hold Sebastian. I mean, he was 17 days old, and his parents had yet to have the opportunity to hold him. Now, holding a preemie is no easy task. There are all sorts of wires attached to him, the nasal prongs, the pick line etc. So, moving all this stuff and pulling him out of his nice warm isolette are a bit of a challenge. For this reason, you only get the chance to hold your child once a day. As the wires come off, it becomes less of an issue, but at first, when a preemie can't even hold his own temperature, they are pretty strict about holds, so that the moves back and forth don't cause too much trauma. Well, I chatted with his nurse, who, happened to be a guy that day, a guy who was an ironman athlete no less!! Oh, and did I mention, that Sebastian, the super star, actually completed two marathons before he was born. It might explain why he never stops moving (until nap time of course).
Well, the nurse told me to go pump and if all was well, I could hold him when I got back. A small word on pumping here. Breast milk is the easiest thing for a baby to digest, and somehow, when you have a preemie, your body just knows and produces milk that's suited to a preemie, higher fat, etc. It's neat actually. So, they encourage you to pump as the milk is considered liquid gold. Needless to say, every 3 hours I had a date with my yellow medela symphony pump (rented of course). Not the funnest, but hey, if it was good for Sebastian, I was willing to do it!!
I got back and it was time to hold Sebastian. I was going to be holding him in what they called "kangaroo care". Basically, they place him, on my chest, skin to skin. I somehow adjust my temperature to meet his needs, and he just lies there and takes it in, listening to my heart beat etc. It was developed in South America I think. At some hospital, they ran out of spaces for babies needing isolettes (incubators), and so those babies that didn't have an isolette were put with their moms, and the moms help their babies, skin to skin, to help keep them warm (since most preemies can't hold their own body temperature). Well, surprise surprise, the babies that were with their moms, ended up doing better than the babies getting all the fancy technology. So now in most Neonatal Units, they highly encourage kangaroo care as a way to help the babies.
Well, I was on a rocking chair, wearing a hospital smock, and they placed Sebastian right on my chest. Words can not describe just what an incredible feeling it was to have him there. After a very rough 17 days, I was finally able to hold my son. He was snug as a bug and did great, with hardly any desats.
The next day, they finally started feeding Sebastian. Up until then, he had only had nutrition by IV, so it was so exciting that he was going to eat. They started out with pedialyte (basically an expensive version of Gatorade for kids). And since they were successful with that, they started him on breast milk the next day. I held Sebastian again, and the next day would be Jeremy's turn (as they would only let one of us hold him each day at this point).
So, next up, they wanted to take out the drains that were inserted on the code blue day. Up until this point, the drains were sticking out of Sebastian's stomach on the lower left side. There were two of them, and they basically looked like surgical tubing of some kind, about half a centimetre wide, and they stuck out of his stomach about one centimetre. So, to take them out, they just pulled on them a little every half hour. There were small cuts in them at one point, and when they had pulled them to that point (maybe about 4 cms were sticking out by now), Sebastian got really uncomfortable to the point where the nurse had to get the doctor to come. The doctor pulled the drains out the rest of the way. They were about 12 cm long all together. Craziness!! Oh well, once they came out, Sebastian settled right down. Sadly though, because he was not doing as good, Jeremy was not able to hold him.
The next day, Sebastian was not doing well. Tests indicated he might have an infection (a real concern since his abdominal region had been exposed to the real world via his drains). They had to do an x-ray to see what was up with him. Luckily, nothing showed wrong, so they resumed feeds.
Five days after I held him, Sebastian was held by his dad for the first time. Jeremy was so excited to hold him, especially after the 3 day delay because of the abdominal issues. Jeremy loved it. Just look at the picture. It says it all. This was such a special moment, because after 22 days, Jeremy was finally able to hold his son for the first time!!
Oh, and keep in mind, that Sebastian was still not even weighing 2 pounds when we held him for the first time. Just go to your fridge and pick up 2 blocks of butter. That weighs more than Sebastian did when he was born, and when we held him for the first time!!
So, that was holding Sebastian, there were more challenges to come, but we'll get to that again later!!