Monday, August 17, 2009

Why the NICU?

Okay, here is my attempt to explain why Harris was in the NICU. Please be patient with me. I did learn a lot while spending A LOT of time in the NICU but I'm certainly no expert. The doctors and nurses were very patient
and answered all of my questions...multiple times! Mike understood things better than I did so he might jump in and clarify!

At 6 hrs old, we noticed that Harris was looking yellow & told the nurse. Turns out that babies should NOT be jaundiced that early in life. Poor Harris didn't even have a name yet & had to be taken for bloodwork. His bilirubin was 11.4 and climbing. This is dangerous for such a young baby & major complications can come out of numbers over 20. Luckily, Harris' bili got close to 15 but never over. So.....Harris had to wear some cool shades and rest under 5 lights in the NICU to get the bili down while the drs & nurses searched for a reason for such a high number. In the meantime, he was given IV fluids to help move the bili out of his system & antibiotics to proactively fight any infection that could be causing the high bili. Turns out that the cause was his reticulocyte (retic) count was above 20%. This is the rate at which red blood cells are broken down - normal is below 2%. So, breaking down of the the red blood cells caused waste (bilirubin) which caused the jaundice. We still do not know what caused the high retic but are following up with a pediatric hematologist at DuPont.
See the paddle in the above picture on Harris' arm? That was for the IV and boy did he use that thing as a paddle! He is an arm swinger - now I know what I felt in my belly all that time! While he had the IV we were calling him Paddles!
For the first few days (he was in the NICU for a week), Harris was only allowed out from under the lights to nurse for 10 minutes. Then he was given either formula or expressed breastmilk (liquid gold!) under the lights by his daddy. As his bili started coming down we were able to keep him out of the lights for longer and Mike was able to actually sit down and feed him. The reason for the extra breastmilk/formula was to keep things moving through his system...bili comes out in the pee and poop!

Harris' phototherapy was slowly reduced and eventually gone and the little guy was allowed to wear clothes and be swaddled! It was very nice to visit him and old him as long as we wanted out of the lights! After his retic dropped to a normal level of below 2%, Harris came home on Friday, 8/14, at one week old. He is still being monitored...more on that to follow.
Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

EHRisser said...

What a little miracle! It was wonderful to meet him today. Glad everyone is home and healthy :)