This is part two of a very long trail of posts about our beautiful daughter, Lara. If you haven't read the first part - Build Up To Lara's Birth - already, now is a good time to do so and come back. It'll put a lot of what is said here into context.
Due to Lara's size and heart problems, she was very quickly whipped away to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) pretty much immediately after birth. Claire was transferred back to the observation ward to recover from the caesarian section.
In SCBU, the doctors and nurses assessed Lara and then:
- inserted a cannula into her right arm for the prostaglandin infusion used to keep the ductus arteriosus 4 open, (this was moved to the belly button a couple of days later)
- inserted a feeding tube in her mouth and down to her stomach, to ensure she could be fed, no matter what,
- inserted a nasal cannula to supply her with "continuous positive airway pressure" (CPAP), not for oxygen supplementation just added air pressure,
- and attached several monitoring sensors to monitor her heart rate, respiratory rate and spot oxygen saturation (SpO2)
With all these in place, Lara was placed in an incubator and put on an hourly feeding cycle. All but the nasal cannula would be with her from here on in.
We finally got a chance to see our little one for the second time (the first being minutes after birth) at about 9pm that night. I could have gone and seen her earlier, but that wouldn't have been fair on Claire. I also didn't want to see Lara for the first time on my own. So I waited until Claire was relatively mobile and wheeled her round in a wheelchair, camera in hand, to see our beautiful little girl...
I must say, it was quite scary seeing Lara's tiny little body with all these tubes and wires attached to her, but in a strange way, it was also relatively reassuring knowing that all but the cannula in her arm were there purely for assistive or monitoring purposes: they're weren't essential to keeping her alive and certainly weren't causing her any pain. Other than the heart problems, Lara was a perfectly healthy small baby.
With Lara being so small, she only really had one goal: grow and put on as much weight as possible. First she had to hit 2kg so she could move out of SCBU and onto the paediatric cardiac ward, Bellhouse, over in the main children's hospital. Once there, her next weight goal may as well have been "infinity" as the doctors didn't want to give an exact weight other than to say they wanted her as big as possible before going into surgery. A ball-park figure of 2.5 - 3kg was mentioned in one consultation, but we were told not to set our hearts on this weight: they may intervene earlier, they may allow her to rocket right past before conducting surgery. It all really depended on how she progressed and coped with the prostaglandin infusion.
This first week saw Lara pull out all the stops on the weight gain front: instead of losing weight in the early days, as most new borns do, she put on weight and was up to 1.897kg on the 17th, 1.91kg on the 19th and 1.925kg on the 21st - 119g in 7 days. Not bad at all. During that time she went from hourly feeds of 7ml up to 17ml every 2 hours, all of which were now purely expressed breast milk mostly sent down the tube in her mouth. She did have a few attempts on the boob, but given the CPAP for the first 4 days (it came out on the night of the 18th) in her nose and the fact she was never really given the chance to get hungry thanks to the regular feeds, she didn't really latch on and feed for any particular length of time.
Not wanting to draw too much attention away from Lara, this week also saw Claire being discharged from hospital on the 19th. Once Claire had had her overnight stay in the observation ward following Lara's birth, she was transferred up to a private room (as opposed to a general ward) on the seventh floor to recover. Claire was also very lucky to be allowed to stay for 5 days instead of the normal maximum of 3. We think this was due to a combination of the weekend, Lara's condition and the fact they weren't particularly busy. From a selfish point of view, having Claire discharged on the 19th did have a plus for me: I got to wake up on my birthday with my wife by my side. I also happened to get a birthday wish I'd wished for every year since arriving in the UK: snow on my birthday. The only thing is I deliberately didn't ask for it this year as I didn't want it to affect our chances of visiting Lara. Thankfully it wasn't a particularly heavy snow fall so we had no problems visiting Lara that day. I also got to discover I'd taken what would turn out to be one of my favourite pictures of Lara the day before...
The end of the week saw Lara start her short life as one that gets to travel a lot: she was moved from what we believe was a "higher dependency" room, shared with one other baby, to a slightly "lower dependency" room shared with 5 or 6 other babies. She also got a little stint under the sun lamp to deal with the slight jaundice she'd developed over the last few days...
All in all, the first week was quite a busy and exciting week. Everything was looking good and Claire and I were growing very attached to our little girl.
Update: The next post: Lara's Second Week
Note: I've deliberately disabled comments on this and subsequent posts. The final post will however be open for comments.