The NICU Experience Aaron update 1
The NICU Experience
Later Updates
Subject: Aaron update 1
Date: Saturday, November 30, 2002 6:18 PM
From: Kevin Quick
To: Aaron Update List

Hi family and friends,

OK, here we go with our first Aaron update! I (Kevin) will be the author of these updates. You’ll soon see that I enjoy writing, and I hope I don’t tire you out with it! If I do, please let me know any time you’d like to be taken off the list. You won’t hurt my feelings TOO much. :) [Later note: This has turned out to be a really long message. I promise that further updates will not be so long-winded!]

I’m happy to say that it’s with a very full, humble and grateful heart that I write this first message. It’s been an awesome three days now (and an awesome two weeks, actually...If I can find the time, I’d like to write out the whole story of what’s transpired these past two weeks, including the trips to the hospital in Lakeport, the helicopter ride, Kathleen’s “you’re a daddy” phone call, etc. But I digress...).

Things are good, good GOOD! Aaron’s head ultrasound results came back this morning...PERFECT!! PERFECT!!!!! No bleeding on the brain at all. This is very, very important, because 40% of babies born at Aaron’s age have at least some bleeding, which can result in learning disabilites and other problems. And 20% of babies born at Aaron’s age have “massive” bleeding, which inevitably results in cerebral palsy and other very major conditions that would have given Kathleen and me the unenviable responsibility of deciding whether or not to “pull the plug.” We’re not out of the woods, though, by any means. Aaron’s brain is still in the “gelatinous” stage that it must pass through in weeks 24 and 25, and his little blood vessels are very, very sensitive, and are still subject to a high risk of bleeding. But so far, his little brain is perfect. Thank God!

Another area of concern is Aaron’s lungs. So far, his lungs have been perfect. About an hour before Kathleen was airlifted on Wednesday, the Lakeport nurse Susan (God bless you, Susan...I wish I had your e-mail address, for taking charge and getting Kathleen to San Francisco...Aaron owes his life to you) was able to give Kathleen a couple of injections of steroids that are helping to mature Aaron’s lungs quickly. However, Aaron’s little lungs have a lot of development yet to go, and they weren’t intended to be used to oxygenate his blood and remove carbon dioxide for another four months. Yet, they’re working so well now that Aaron is on no supplemental oxygen. He just has a machine that helps get ambient air into and out of his lungs, but his little lungs are doing all the oxygenating work. The big caution here, and one of the biggest hurdles to get over in the next few weeks, is that since Aaron’s lungs weren’t really meant to be doing this work so soon, they could get over-worked and start failing. Parts of his lungs could get irritated and start sticking together. Let’s keep those little lungs in our prayers!

In all other areas, Aaron is just a perfect little guy. His blood chemistry is constantly being monitored, as is his heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and blood oxygenation level (lots of cool machines doing all this stuff). All these things have been perfect since his birth on Wednesday. He’s residing in a state-of-the-art “Giraffe” incubator (there’s a better term for this than incubator, but I can’t remember what it is right now), with digital readouts for temperature, humidity, and a few other things that I haven’t studied yet. He kicks his feet, waves his arms, grabs the electrical wires that are attached to his arms and legs, he yawns and hiccups once in a while. Sometimes he even gets so active that the nurse gives him a little morphine to slow him down! We don’t want him to burn up all his calories by playing around; we want the majority of his limited energy to go into growing.

He looks like me! In fact, Aaron’s nurse Lisa today said that Nancy, one of the superb nurses at Sutter Lakeside Hospital in Lakeport, called to see how Aaron and we were doing. When Nancy asked what Aaron looked like, Lisa said, “He’s a cutie. Picture daddy with blond hair.” Aw, shucks. Anyway, he doesn’t have much hair yet, but it does look like he could be a little tow head (is that how you spell that?). He definitely has daddy’s lanky arms, long fingers (on the day he was born, one nurse said that he was going to be a piano player, without knowing anything about me), long legs with perfect little feet and toes. I think he may have Kathleen’s wide cheekbones, but it’s really hard to tell, since we haven’t seen him with his breathing tube & tape removed yet. He definitely has daddy’s head shape.

Kathleen is doing great. She was checked out of the hospital yesterday morning. She’s fatigued, and has post-partum hormones raging through her body, but her spirits are good (you know Kathleen). She’s on a breast-pumping regimen every 3 hours. Her milk (colostrum first, milk soon afterward) is being frozen and will be thawed and given to Aaron in tiny doses when he’s ready for it, maybe in just a few days (this would normally be in a week or so, but the neonatologist said that Aaron is doing so well that we may want to try it in a few days). She’ll keep this up for the next 4 months or so. Aaron’s actual breast feeding won’t be possible for 3 months. Kathleen is feeling quite crampy, which is normal. These cramps should subside over the next week or two.

Even though we’ve checked out of the hospital, we’re staying at the hospital in a “rooming in” room. Subject to availability, these rooms are available to patients’ parents free of charge. No food or linen services are provided (not free of charge, anyway), but the hospital has a cafeteria, and we’re within walking distance of several restaurants and stores, although we haven’t ventured outside yet.

We’re currently in room 117, and the direct phone number to our room is 415-600-XXXX. The hospital is the California Pacific Medical Center, at 3700 California Street in downtown San Francisco, 94114.

Daddy is having fun with his electronic toys, of course. I’m able to connect to the Internet and send and receive e-mail from our room, with my laptop computer hooked up to the telephone line (if the line is busy when you call, I’m probably on it!). I have a nationwide ISP, so there’s a local access number for me to connect to here in San Francisco. About two weeks ago, I purchased a new digital camera, a Sony DSC-F717: 5 megapixel, with a nice Carl Zeiss lens. I bought the camera in preparation for baby’s arrival. I had been wondering if I’d purchased the camera too soon, but I’m not wondering any more! The camera is here with us; that’s what I’ll be using to take the pictures that I e-mail to you.

Well, I think that ought to about do it for our first update. It’s been quite the ride already, but thankfully, we’ve had three “up” days, and no down days so far. However, we know the down days are coming. In fact, I asked Aaron’s nurse Lisa today whether the medical center has ever had a preemie as early as Aaron is without any major problems, and she answered, “no.” Aaron’s little biological systems are going to be taxed to their limits and beyond, and this is not going to be easy for him, nor for us. In the meantime, though, Kathleen and I are bowing our knees in thanks to our Father for these three EXCELLENT days that we’ve had so far.

Thank you, all, for your continued love, prayers and support. We feel the presence of God sustaining us moment by moment. And we believe that He will continue to sustain us, come what may. We’ll undoubtedly plumb some depths that we’ve never known before, but we pray that this will result in our becoming better people, more able to freely share the grace He’s given us with others the way they’ve been sharing with us. I think the three of us have a lot of adventures in store, a lot to learn, and a lot of growing to do.

Sincerest love to you all. We’ll keep you posted.

Love, Kevin, Kathleen & Aaron