As of 6pm tonight, Elsie is still off the ventilator. She was doing great when I visited yesterday morning. When I heard the news on Monday night that she had been extubated (breathing tube removed), I worried all night that something would go wrong before I got there Tuesday morning and that she'd have her breathing tube back in, but my worries were for nothing. She has a tiny little nasal cannula that issues intermittent bursts of oxygen into her nose, while allowing her to breathe on her own. It's so fun to be able to see her entire face, and to be able to hear her breathing. She also currently has a PICC line in her left arm where they administer her antibiotics for the pneumonia. She'll need (I think) 3 more days of antibiotics, and then the PICC line can come out.
When Clayton and I arrived this afternoon, hoping that today would be the day that he would finally be able to hold her, she wasn't doing great. She wasn't doing horrible, but her oxygen levels kept dropping below where they should be. The nurse told us that Elsie had a hard time during the night, and they almost had to reinsert the horrible breathing tube, but she recovered before they did. She was doing better now, but they decided to give her a blood transfusion to try to boost her red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, so the hope is that the transfusion will help her stay oxygenated more easily. Preemies often have a hard time replacing blood quickly enough, so blood transfusions are common. Makes you want to go out and donate blood, doesn't it, when you imagine a tiny helpless baby being the lucky recipient? I know I will try to donate blood more often.
Anyway, since she was in the middle of getting the transfusion and since she was kind of on the borderline of being stable, we decided with the nurse that it would be better to let her stay calm in her bed, and not do anything that might cause her distress. So poor Daddy didn't get to hold his baby tonight. But we need to do what's best for Elsie. Hopefully she will remain stable throughout the night and be doing better tomorrow.
The nurse practitioner reminded us that even if Elsie needs to be intubated again, it's ok. NBICU is one step forward, two steps back. Baby steps. Every minute that she is not intubated allows her lungs to heal and recover, so they will try to keep her off the vent if they can, and it's been so great that she has been off it as long as she has this time. BUT . . . if she is struggling and needs to go back on the vent, then I'd rather she be on the vent and have assistance breathing than not be breathing at all. So. There's your warning that if she is back on the vent tomorrow, then it's not the end of the world. But let's hope and pray that she can keep up her awesome progress! Thank you again (I feel like I can't say it enough) to everybody for your incredible support. We love you!