Friday, July 21, 2006

Thinking long term

It's day 71, and we've had our first visit from a person we are most happy to meet: Woody's discharge coordinator. No, his release from the hospital is not imminent. But we are beginning to understand what the conditions have to be to allow him to leave the hospital. First, his weight has to get above a certain sliding threshold (which is generally somewhere around five pounds). Second, he needs to be breathing on his own (although some babies do go home with supplemental oxygen, which remains a likely possibility). Third, he has to be feeding on his own, which he still is not doing (and won't until he gets off the CPAP machine; the air that it forces into his body makes his own suckling problematic because he'll swallow too much of it as he feeds). Finally, he has to be tested in order to confirm that he's stable enough to leave.*

The very fact that we're thinking long term like this has Maggie and I very excited. It's one thing to know that he's doing well. It's another thing altogether to know that he's doing well enough to where we can think about the day when we get to take him home and actually be real parents for the first time. And he does continue to do well. As of today it's his ten week birthday; he is 33 weeks 2 days gestationally, and he has been off the ventilator for a full week. While his oxygen needs are not coming down as quickly as we would like (he usually sits in the 50-60% range for O2 needs), the fact that he appears to have made it on his first extubation attempt as such a young preemie, especially after being born so incredibly early, still is very good. Also, he continues to gain good weight, being up to 1790 grams today (which is 3.94627449 pounds!). We are very proud of him.

Okay, three housekeeping matters. First, I want to make it absolutely clear that I was NOT calling people out on the Wednesday post about friends disappearing. Truth be told, I was venting about three people I know in real life who have disappeared since Woody's birth. Even these people I hold no grudge against-- I know it's hard to initiate contact in such cases, and I'll just bite the bullet in the next week and call them myself. So no, I wasn't talking about YOU. Second, I did post a hugely long screed yesterday about ethical issues surrounding the care of preemies. It's there primarily as a placeholder for myself to remind myself of how I'm thinking about such things, and I do not expect any of you to actually read it. Finally, I want to specially thank the Crows, who sent us an amazingly nice package of stuff this week. Maggie and I are incredibly touched by this, and we really appreciate it.

*I asked the discharge coordinator at which point we are tested to ensure that we are qualified to take care of him. She thought this was somewhat amusing, I think; I wonder (not seriously, to be clear) whether all parents should be licensed before being allowed to procreate.


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