Sunday, May 4, 2008

Life at PLC

Well, Sebastian started improving leaps and bounds soon. I mean, there were still setbacks, but nothing like in the beginning. The setbacks were no longer life or death and he continued to eat, gain weight and grow. 

As he got bigger, the only big challenges were holding his temperature and learning to eat on his own (so far all the nutrition he got was from a feeding tube). 

So, because the pick line was gone, and he was really only on oxygen (as well as the monitors for his heart rate, breathing and oxygen saturations), he didn't need to be in an intensive care unit any more. I showed up one day and there was a portable isolette on a stretcher. I knew that he was moving. I visited with him, pumped and when I cam back, they were packing him up to move him to Peter Lougheed Hospital. I'm not sure why, but it was super emotional. I think partly because it was change, but also because we'd be saying good bye to some of Sebastian's primary care nurses who had looked after him every shift they had since he was born. Laine, Helene and Barb were absolutely fantastic and were kind to us and amazing, and leaving them behind would be sad. I watched them wheel the stretcher down the hallway and just like that, Sebastian's days at Foothills were over. 

I got in the car and drove over to PLC. The staff at Foothills had told me where to go, and now it was a matter of waiting for my little guy to show up. He got settled, and life as we knew it was changed all around. In the same amount of space that had one baby at Foothills, now 4 babies would fit. Most of the babies were in cots (they seriously looked like they were from the 50s or something). Sebastian however, was still in an isolette. We didn't know anyone. Half the babies were from Foothills originally, but the other half were babies that needed some care after birth, but not the care that Foothills provided. PLC is considered a Special Care Nursery. None of the babies there were on ventilators, and rarely would a baby there be on CPAP. Oxygen was still pretty common. 

We developed a whole new routine at PLC. We of course, scrubbed up upon entering, but now, we could take our baby and hold him whenever we wanted to. With the isolette still being there, we usually asked for help still, but it wasn't a big deal. The nurses looked after a lot more babies, so we didn't get the same attention that Foothills had. And, they were a lot more aggressive with feeding. I believe on the first day, they started Sebastian on bottles. This didn't go really well at first and Sebastian would tire quickly (and then get the rest by feeding tube), but they made him try anyhow. So, along with that he was able to work on the breast feeding as well. They were also quick to try him in a cot, but had to revert back to the isolette because Sebastian just wouldn't stay warm enough. They were also more willing to let us do stuff, like take his temperature, change his diaper, and even bath him, once he was keeping his temperature enough to have a bath. Oh to do real parent type stuff!! We were also shown all sorts of things and had a checklist to complete before we'd be allowed to take him home. 

We learned about the Mother's Day run from one of the nurses at Foothills, and knew it would be benefiting NICU, so of course I wanted to participate. We signed up to the 5km. Keep in mind I was still mending my broken leg, so even that was a lot. On Mother's Day morning, we stopped at PLC to visit. The nurses had made up little picture frames of the babies, with little Happy Mother's Day cards for all the moms. It was so sweet. The nurses at Foothills had dressed him up like an Easter bunny on Easter, and those little touches made all the difference to us parents!! Sort of like the tiny mini footprints they put in our journal. I will forever be grateful for those!! So, after a quick visit with Sebastian, we took the train to downtown and met up with a friend to do the run. Well, she had arranged to have a bunch of people do the walk with us. It was great. And my workplace had made a poster for Sebastian as well, with all kinds of nice wishes for him. And, everyone had shirts on that said "Sebastian the Super Trooper" complete with his birth weight and cartoons. It was so nice (thanks Heather and Cheryl!!). So we did the run, and stopped by the NICU grad tent afterwards, knowing that next year, we'd have Sebastian with us. 

Afterwards, we headed back to the hospital to see Sebastian again. He continued to grow and thrive at PLC. He got better and better with feeds, and had less and less episodes of apnea (stopping breathing),  and slowed heart rate. They did trials every week of room air to see how he did without oxygen. The first week he lasted 13 minutes, the next week, 2 hours, the week after 4 hours and the week after, well, he's still on room air, so I guess he's doing okay!! 

On June 9th, we were told we would be rooming in at the hospital for the weekend. Despite a couple more apneas than they like (only happened while he was eating), it was time to see if we could handle him on his own. Basically, they gave him too us, to stay, down the hall in a room, for the weekend. If he did okay, then he'd be leaving on the Sunday. The nurse came and checked on him 3 or 4 times a day. It was so exciting. Chris and Jeff brought us dinner on the Saturday, and hung out while we were learning to be parents. It was fun and surreal, and a little scary!! He was connected to no monitors. We were responsible for feeding him, changing him, and all that stuff. Well, Sunday morning, he went to rounds and the doctor discharged him. He was on a few medications, but nothing too serious. His eyes had gotten worse though, so we were checking them out every week now (a common side effect of prematurity). We were discharged with a whole sheet of instructions and a meeting planned for the very next day with a nurse at our house, from the Neonatal Transition Team. 

We packed him into his carseat, the nurses took a photo of us as a family, and we headed off. My eyes of course, were tearing up. It was so unbelievable that we were leaving the hospital this time, with our baby, and that we wouldn't be coming back in the morning!! We put him in the car (sleeping soundly), and headed home. It would be two weeks until he was back in the hospital, but more on that next time...

Well, the Mother's Day run is only one week away now. I hope you've enjoyed reading about Sebastian's NICU days. NICU truly did save his life and we will forever be grateful to the doctors and nurses who cared for him. If you want to make a donation, click here for Jeremy's page and click here for Sharon's page. All the money raised is used to purchase equipment for the NICU, including such things as transport incubators and specialized equipment that aids in screening for hearing issues and other things. Truly, it makes a difference, and we thank you for your support. Any donation of $20 gets a tax receipt, and if you donate $100 or more, we'll make you a homemade cheesecake of your choice!! We can also take cash or cheque donations if you prefer that, just let us know.

If you want to check out Sebastian's commercial for the run, click here!!

We'll be having a barbeque to celebrate everyone who supported us and we'll let you know more about that, after the run!!

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