Monday, February 27, 2012

Looking Back

Most kids celebrate their birthday. Not many celebrate the anniversary of the day they came home from the hospital. We do, though. Jay was a preemie. He was born at barely 28 weeks gestation (and I do mean barely, when my water broke the docs were still calling it 27 weeks, he was born in the early hours of the morning). He was born by emergency c-section. My water had broken & he had decided that he was coming out. Then, he turned & tried to come out arm first. That obviously wasn't a good idea, hence the c-section. He was 2lbs 14oz and 15in long. He could not breathe on his own. He could not eat on his own. He could not regulate his own body temperature.

He went straight to the NICU. I was allowed in for a few minutes right after I woke up, but then not again for a week. I had a fever. They weren't sure why I had a fever, but they couldn't risk me taking an infection into the NICU. They finally figured out that the fever was from the inter-uterine infection I had. The infection was due to having a bulging watersac for at least 5 weeks. It was also possibly the cause of my water breaking & going into labor when I did. Once they found out that's what was causing the fever, I was allowed to go see my baby (since I wasn't contagious). I wasn't allowed to hold him at first. It was heartbreaking to sit there, only allowed to hold his hand, and only with a glove on.

The worst, most terrifying experience we had in the NICU was his jaundice. Jaundice is not normally detrimental. However, severe cases, when the bilirubin counts get to dangerous levels, can cause brain damage. Jay had a severe case of it. Even with phototherapy treatment (surrounding him with bili lights), his bilirubin levels were not responding. The doctor informed us that they might have to do a blood exchange transfusion. A blood exchange transfusion is just what it sounds like - they slowly remove all of the person's blood, replacing it with new blood. It is rare to require this treatment for jaundice, but Jay almost needed it. He has always been a fighter, though. He fought his jaundice and made an amazing recovery.

The rest of his stay in the NICU was fairly uneventful. As he grew, he had less problems maintaining body temperature, eating, and breathing. His stay in the NICU lasted about 2 months. That was a shorter stay than had been anticipated. They told us that he likely would get out around his original due date, which was St. Patrick's day. As I said, though, he has always been a fighter. He came home 8 years ago today. He was still tiny - less than 6 lbs. He came home on an apnea monitor. We were told to keep him home, unless we really needed to take him out, due to his increased risk of getting RSV.

We had regular appointments with the NICU Follow-Up clinic, to keep tabs on his development & health. They were concerned about his muscle tone. Apparently, his muscles were too tight, which could have required physical therapy. They had us do stretches & exercises with him every few hours & give him tummy time 10 times a day, in hopes of correcting the problem on our own. It worked, and he never needed a physical therapist. They had him evaluated for Occupational Therapy & Developmental Therapy. Neither were needed. They told us that he was too self-directed, and that would cause problems when he went to school. We homeschool, I'm not concerned.

Jay has always done things in his own time & his own way. For about the first year he was home, he only slept for 20 minutes at a time. For months, he ate every hour, because he could only eat small amounts. He likes to prefect a skill before showing it to anyone. He would sit in his room, reading whole books out loud (and I mean reading, not telling the story from the pictures or memory), but would refuse to read more than a few words to me. When he learned to walk, he held onto furniture until he was certain he could do it alone. Then, started running. He spoke one word at 12 months. Then he refused to speak for about 10 months, when he started speaking in complete sentences. This is just how he has always been. He does stuff on his own until he's sure of it, then does it in front of us. I know this from seeing & hearing him do things when he didn't know I was there, things he would not do around us. He has been a perfectionist since birth. He is a joy to raise, despite the challenges involved.

Anyway, that's his story, the short version of it. Today, we're going to go for a family hike, make homemade pizza for dinner, and maybe play some family games. That's what he has requested as his anniversary celebration.