I know I'm not caught up with the labor & delivery story, but I just wanted to share today's victory.
Clayton and I got to the NICU and scrubbed up. As we went through the doors into Room 1, we knew something big was going on because the walls & lid to Elsie's incubator were removed. We hurried over, and the nurse practitioner told us to hurry and take a picture if we had a camera. As we looked down, we realized that Elsie's "sunglasses" were off, and her breathing tube was gone. Our little fighter had her ventilator turned off and was breathing on her own! But they were just about to put the breathing tube back in, so I hurried to take a picture with my phone, and then the nurses ushered us out. We waited anxiously outside and watched through the window. It was nerve-wracking to hear alarms and see lights flashing, but the nurses were calm, so I tried to be calm. After they reinserted her tubes and turned the ventilator back on, we were allowed back in.
The nurses explained that the ventilator was on the very lowest setting, and so they took her off it to see how she would do. She was able to breathe on her own. Apparently, she is ready for the next step, which is a CPAP, but her little nose is too tiny for it to fit. So until she gets a little bigger, she will stay on the ventilator's lowest setting with periodic "breathing practice."
I was thinking that she'd been off the ventilator for a few minutes, so I was stunned when I asked the nurse how long she'd been off. Three hours. Three hours!! She had a few episodes of what they call "A's and B's", or apnea and bradycardia. Apnea is when you temporarily stop breathing, and bradycardia is the slowing down of the heartbeat. But this is normal and to be expected, and she was able to pull out of it on her own. There were also a few times when she had to be stimulated to breathe. It sounds scary to me, and I'm kind of glad that I wasn't there to observe, because I think I would have been really scared. But the nurses knew what they were doing, and obviously wouldn't have put her at risk. They were all very pleased with her progress, as were her proud parents. Way to go, baby!
While we were waiting in the hall, we were surprised to see one of the helicopter nurses who had flown with me. I think she was the one whose hand I kept trying to hold, but I'm not sure. She instantly recognized Clayton and asked how we were doing. She said that she tried to check on Elsie whenever she was in the area, and was happy that she was making progress. Then she said goodbye and left. Moments later, she came back and laughed that she hadn't realized that it was me, but was glad to see that I was also doing well.
We had a very nice visit from Clayton's cousin Chantel and aunt Kathryn, and were excited to share Elsie's progress with them. Chantel had 28-week twin boys six years ago, and they had been in the same hospital. She gave us a basket full of items that she had found to be useful and comforting when she had been in our shoes, six years ago. She also made a cute little nametag that we taped onto Elsie's incubator. It was all so thoughtful and so kind. Throughout these last four days, we have been overwhelmed by this great outpouring of love from so many. We have an amazing support system, and want you all to know that if we didn't have you, our journey would be so much more difficult. Thanks for all that everyone has done, big and small. It means the world to us and our girls.