Baby steps

The pediatrician gave us good news and bad news today. The bad news is that our new baby has two holes in his heart. The good news is that they appear to be small and may resolve themselves in a matter of weeks or months, and that otherwise he is doing much better than expected. James has a ventricular septal defect, which means that there are holes in the membrane between the left and right ventricles. Blood from the left ventricle flows into the right ventricle and into the lungs. With a small defect like the pediatrician suspects James’ to be, there are usually no symptoms and the holes close over time. However, since ultrasound isn’t 100 percent accurate, he did warn us about signs of congestive heart failure, which is a possibility with larger such defects. Luckily, James is showing none of the signs thus far, and the pediatrician will be checking him regularly after he’s released.

Speaking of his release, that brings me to more good news. The nursing staff had warned us that preterm babies sometimes need to remain in the hospital until close to their original due date — which, in our case, is more than a month away. However, since he’s been breathing well and feeding well, the doctor told us it looks like James may be able to come home sometime this weekend. Chris has spent the past few days cleaning and shopping and preparing to bring the baby home, since we had but a few baby outfits (none in a newborn size, let alone preemie clothes!) and no bassinet or bottle nipples to be seen.

After his check by the pediatrician this morning, James passed a milestone of sorts — he moved from the incubator to a wheeled cot like those that hold the other babies in the nursery (well, the other preemies, anyway — healthier babies have wooden bassinet carts rather than large metal ones). He is still hooked up to monitors and is not allowed to leave the nursery, but I can go in now and love on my baby without having to ask a nurse to remove him from the isolette for me.

James has been spending a little more of his day awake now, but still dozes off as soon as he begins eating. In order to be successful off the IV, the staff would like him to take in at least 30 cc of milk at each meal. At his first weighed feed about 11:30 a.m., he drank off only one side for 15 minutes — a very short meal for him — and managed to record an intake of 29 cc anyway. His IV was removed, and at his next three meals, which were more in line with his usual feedings, he consumed 33, 34 and 33 cc of milk, respectively. Not too bad for a 35-weeker!

The highlight of the day came about 8:15 this evening, when little James met his big sister for the first time. I don’t think it really sank in with her that the baby had come out of Mommy’s tummy until we went to the nursery and I held James up for her just inside the nursery doorway. Her eyes lit up and she had the hugest, happiest grin. James didn’t really seem to notice, but Chris and I were happy to finally introduce the babies to each other and we were delighted that Maddi liked her brother so much. We’re hoping it’s the start of a beautiful relationship!

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