Sorry for the delay in getting a new blog update out to you guys. We've been busy settling in with our new family member and getting into a routine.
On Monday, March 23, 2009, Colton finally got to leave the NICU at Texas Woman's Hospital after 7 weeks and 3 days. He started out on January 31, 2009, at 3 lbs. 12 oz. and left on March 23, 2009 at about 7 1/2 lbs. He is still about 2 1/2 weeks shy of his original due date of April 12, 2009. So as challenging as it's been these past 7+ weeks, Colton has made tremendous progress.
We left the hospital after 6:00 on Monday. We had picked up Syd early from school that day as she wanted to accompany her baby brother home from the hospital. Getting out of school early wasn't all that bad either!
We all got to see many of the doctors and nurses that had been with Colton throughout his 7 week stay. Sydney got to say goodbye to the nurses who taught the Siblings Class each Wednesday. We also saw Dr. Gee, the neonatologist who was there when Colton was born. Dr. Hernandez, who was with us in the early days as we were dealing with the PDA not closing. And of course, Colton's heart and "brain" surgeon - Dr. Bloss - the pediatric surgeon who closed his PDA and did his circumcision. Wendy also mentioned that many of the nurses who had cared for Colton stopped by in the NICU as she was going over discharge procedures. I think what sets these doctors and nurses apart from many others is that their bedside manner matches their medical acumen. We thanked them for all they did for Colton but respectfully told them that we hope not to see them again for business purposes! :)
As we were walking out of the hospital, it still didn't feel real that we were finally going home with him. Wendy and I both had butterflies in our stomachs. Sydney was super excited and couldn't wait to get her little brother home. Houston traffic was surprisingly light on our trip home. That was my worst fear - getting hung up in rush hour traffic trying to get him home. Well, some schools are still on Spring Break in the Houston area so I think that definitely helped. Glad to say the ride home was uneventful.
Our neighbor Karen was nice enough to have dinner waiting on us when we got home. She had also bought balloons and decorated the house for his arrival. As we've said many times on this blog, we are truly blessed with wonderful families and outstanding friends. It's made all of this NICU and preemie experience a little more bearable having the support of everyone. As I've said before, we look forward to the day that we can start to repay this kindness.
After getting settled in and coming down from our adrenaline rush, we went to work trying to create our new routine. Colton has to be fed at least 70 ml (a little over 2 ounces) at least 8 times a day - that's every 3 hours around the clock. Typical newborn feeds are about every 3-4 hours so it's not that unusual. However, Colton also requires the oxygen (nasal canula) during his feeds. He wears an apnea monitor 24x7 with an alarm that makes a car alarm in an enclosed parking garage sound like a whisper. I think the crystal in our china cabinet has all but shattered. Our poor dogs have been traumatized by the apnea monitor alarm as well, especially our black lab, Shadow. Shadow hates any type of electronic beep or alarm (think smoke alarm beeping when the battery is low). For the record, dogs can take Xanax and Shadow is getting good use out of her prescription. The apnea monitor is very sensitive which is a life saver in the event of a true apnea episode. We are hoping to continue only dealing with false alarms on the monitor as opposed to the real deal. Colton will continue to wear his apnea monitor until he is seen by a pediatric pulmonologist who can make the determination when it is no longer needed.
I'll have to say our learning curve for this new routine has really started to pick up. The first night, we worked out a few kinks in the routine and things are starting to go more smoothly. Colton is getting all of his required feeds and amounts which is very important. We also have a little Kangaroo pump, which is a device that helps deliver any remaining milk that he didn't take from his feed to his nasal gastric (NG) tube.
We had our first pediatric visit today as well. We went over Colton's discharge summary which is basically a huge summary report with all of Colton's history from birth to March 23, 2009. Colton and Sydney have the same pediatrician and she is conveniently located 5 minutes from the house (as opposed to Texas Woman's being 75 miles round trip). Dr. B. felt Colton looked really good today and felt he's made good progress based on his early history. Colton will be following up with a pediatric gastroenterologist and pediatric pulmonologist within the next month among other doctor visits. I think it's important to point out that while Colton is out of the NICU, he still has quite a few doctor visits in his future. He also has to overcome a few more challenges with taking all feeding amounts being one of the most important milestones.
We appreciate everyone understanding that we can't have visitors for Colton until after cold and flu season. Right now, late April/early May feels about right. In the meantime, enjoy these blog updates and celebrate with us as Colton has come home to be with his family in Tomball. All the best....Bret, Wendy, Sydney and Colton.