Week 5 and 6 for little premmie Jessica Lotter in the NICU at the Kuilsriver Medi-clinic hospital.
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Jessica cooped up for Week 4 in the NICU at the Kuilsriver Medi-Clinic Hospital.
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Jessica’s second week in the NICU at Netcare Kuilsriver (21 – 27 November) was a bit of a mixed bag, though definitely with far more positives than negatives. Chantelle continued her recuperation at home, with me looking after her – and of course playing chauffeur to ensure that we made the daily trip to hang out with our daughter and most important of all, keep Chantelle to her all important Kangaroo sessions with Jessie.
Jessica’s fourth day of living in this great big world with us went a lot better than the previous day. She had a good night, coming through without any hassles, her jaundice is beginning to show signs of receding nicely, and she appears to be responding just fine to the medicine she’s been receiving to deal with that common open heart valve issue found in premature babies, though this will only be fully confirmed once the course is finished and they can conduct the necessary scans.
Aspiration is still a problem for her though, so she hasn’t been receiving any of Chantelle’s milk just yet, gaining fluids and nutrients entirely from a regulated drip at the moment. Her breathing is nice as stable, and she’s back down to normal oxygen levels via the CPAP machine.
So in other words she’s still doing pretty well considering the circumstances.
As for Chantelle, her healing continues unabated and slowly but surely she is becoming more and more mobile, though still in quite some pain. In terms of milk production, my Daisy is currently shifting into high gear, and it is great to see the amount of milk she expresses literally increase almost exponentially with each and every session!
And me? I continue my vigil and role of supporting cheerleader next to her bed at all times – except for when I nip out to see Jessica of course! :)
Visitors are still flowing in freely, and yesterday we entertained a surprise visit from Terrance and Andrea, Andy looking absolutely fabulous as she heads into the last month of her own pregnancy. Monty and Cheryl continue their daily visits (as well as acting as unofficial courier from Bellville for Olifant Pootjies), coming in twice to support Chantelle yesterday .
Outside of Ilke and her newborn, no other new entries have come to our ward, and so we’re still enjoying relative peace and quiet in our particular little curtained fort. Chantelle’s blood pressure is at last showing signs of coming down, and that bodes well considering she is being discharged later today.
(Unfortunately for her though, the swelling of her feet haven’t yet decided to play ball).
And now for the most important update of them all.
Yesterday marked the first day that Chantelle was allowed to sit down and hold Jessica against her chest, skin to skin, just like mother and baby are supposed to. Needless to say, this was the moment we had all been waiting for, and you could literally see the joy creep over Chantelle’s face as she received Jessica and sat there, motionlessly cradling her daughter on her chest and soaking up this momentous occasion.
And Jessica behaved like an absolute angel, just lying there and not triggering her alarm even once. Chantelle must have sat there for just under a hour, before her pain became too great and she had to return Jessica and make her way back for some more bed rest. But the motherly instinct has now properly been awakened and has literally exploded into life – which is going to make coming home all that much harder for my Chantelle because now she won’t be able to see little Jessie every five minutes any more.
Nevertheless, my beautiful daughter is doing fine, my wife is well on the road to recovery and our journey to Jessie’s triumphant homecoming is that one big step closer! :)
So the good news is that we’ve already received our first big miracle. We learned yesterday from doctor Edson that the initial x-ray of Jessica’s chest was not good at all. The x-ray showed up her chest as being completely white, in other words rock hard and incapable of working. However, according to him, you would never have been able to correlate the x-ray with its real life counterpart because our little daughter has been breathing just fine from the start, completely on her own and only with the slightest assistance via some increased oxygen flow via a CPAP machine. Currently she hovers between oxygen levels of between 21% and 25%, and if you know anything about us humans then you’ll know that we breathe in about a 21% oxygen mix, meaning that she’s breathing as pretty close to normal as possible!
The other exciting news to come out of yesterday is that they took the initial necessary scans to look for blood on the brain, and those all turned up negative, so it looks that Jessica has so far managed to dodge that bullet as well.
The final tests that will have to be conducted will of course look at her heart, more specifically its valves, but from current indications it would seem that she should pass those as well.
In other words, my beautiful, extremely tiny, little 1.4kg daughter is doing just fine, in the capable hands of Kuilsriver’s fantastic NICU staff as well as the loving embrace of her very own little heated miracle bed.
Oh, and just for the record, she has a fantastic hand grip, which can be attested to by mommy’s finger, and more importantly, she most definitely responds to our voices and touch, which is absolutely brilliant to behold!
And did I mention that she is the most beautiful baby in the world yet?
Another little discovery made yesterday is the confirmation that my daughter did indeed come out with a head of hair, dirty blonde by the look of it to me. Seriously. My little long-legged swimsuit model wannabe is already well on her way to stealing the hearts of everyone around her! :)
Now on to Mommy. Shame, Chantelle is in absolute agony, her wound really eating away at her at the moment. Because of her high blood pressure and extremely swollen limbs, the doctor has to keep her on a relatively low dose of medication to help with the pain, meaning that for now she pretty much has to grit her teeth and just grind it out. She’s being encouraged to walk as much as possible, but the strain of getting in and out of that bed is certainly taking it out of her – never mind the constant manoeuvring to get up and go to the toilet every 15 minutes (which is thanks to the increased fluid in her body left over from all that swelling!).
Though at least now she can start eating solid food again!
But despite all this, believe it or not, my wife is in excellent spirits and that for one cheers me up to no end. Now that she’s able to shuffle over to see Jessica as many times as she wants, the maternal instinct is now kicking in, and the fact that she now also has try and get her breasts to produce some of that life-giving milk that little Jessica so badly needs ASAP (which is an amusing process to behold mind you) means her value to our daughter has shot right up – in other words it is all fun and games for mom and dad at the moment, basically because everything that can go right is currently going exactly as what we could have hoped for.
And for that we are thankful. God’s hand, Jessica’s fighting spirit and everyone’s support WILL make this work.
As for me, I’m still beaming ear to ear with pride and still insist on telling every single person I meet, whether they want to hear it or not, that my precious baby girl has just been born – it’s an overwhelming feeling of elation and joy that I simply can’t seem to shake off at the moment.
I’ve been spending each and every day with Chantelle in the hospital so far, helping her with whatever I can (and yes, in the beginning that even meant bathroom duties), arranging her belonging every five minutes, dozing off with her at the side of her bed (much to everyone’s amusement) and of course reading these blog posts out aloud to her which she seems to thoroughly enjoy for some or other reason – in other words I’m thrilled to be a part of her recovery process, no matter how small or inconsequential my part might currently be.
The flowers and presents have started rolling in now, as have the visitors, and despite the draconian two at a time, only during official visiting hours rules, we’ve already entertained ma and pa, mom and dad, Dean and Zania, Claire and Riley, and look forward to a couple more faces as Chantelle stays over for what should hopefully be her last night tonight. These visits mean the world to us (and they’re awesome because they make the time go by faster), so thank you to everyone who showed their faces!
So in summary, everything is going well – Mommy and Daddy are in high spirits, little Jessica looks as cute as a button despite all the tubes and sensors and whatnot surrounding her, the hospital remains a most excellent host and so far everything looks like it is going 100%. (Heck and even the medical aid now appears to be in order)
Of course, we know we still have a long way to go before we can relax, but for now we’ve allowed ourselves the joy of the moment and that is the most important part I think. Its going to be a tough five weeks looking ahead, but with everyone’s continued support and well wishes, the three of us should pull through this with flying colours! :)
Thoughts and prayers please people, thoughts and prayers!
On the 14th of November 2010, a full 8 weeks to early, our precious little dribble monster entered this world, kicking and screaming, and most important of all – alive. Small, but alive. Both mommy and daughter are doing well. And daddy? Daddy is of course over the moon at the moment, unable to contain this overflowing feeling of joy!
World, say hello to Jessica Madison Lotter.
Needless to say, everything has happened rather quickly, rather unexpectedly and naturally thrown all of our carefully laid plans on their heads. If you followed the saga, you will know that on Saturday Chantelle was rushed into hospital and taken up with a confirmed case of pre-eclampsia. What we were told was that baby will have to be removed, but they’ll try to keep her in mommy’s tummy for as long as possible. Chantelle over-nighted at Louis Leipoldt and in the morning, I got a phone call at home from her to let me know that the blood test results had just come back and that Jessica needed to be removed on Wednesday already.
A few minutes later, this changed to today.
So I grabbed everything I thought we would need (remember, we hadn’t even begun to think of packing Chantelle’s hospital bag yet), jumped into the Getz and raced down the N2 to reach Louis Leipoldt, discharge Chantelle and then transport her all the way through to Netcare Kuilsriver where they had a bed available for her and most important of all – place in their neonatal ICU.
As the wonderful sisters fussed over, poked and prodded Chantelle, I got to work on the admin of signing her in, and was soon back next to her side as the various machines were put to work and blood samples taken. She had already met the gynaecologist who would be taking part in the operation, Dr. Albertyn and it was now simply a matter of playing the waiting game as we patiently sat and waited for what was scheduled to be a 17:00 Caesar.
Monty and Cheryl swung by the hospital as well, back from the mission that Chantelle had assigned them, namely the purchase of all the things Chantelle wasn’t comfortable in asking me to organise in case I got them wrong. However, the hospital enforces extremely strict visiting rules and stick to their guns about the allowed time slots and number of visitors per patient (two), meaning that they first needed to wait for 30 minutes outside in the cafeteria, where I joined them for a quick cup of coffee to fill them in on everything that was going on.
Needless to say, the very parched Chantelle (who was obviously not allowed to eat or drink anything) would have killed for that cup of coffee.
But the clock did strike 3 and mom, dad and brother got to visit, though in the end we didn’t have much time to play happy family because Chantelle’s operation was suddenly bumped all the way up and around 15:20 they were already getting her all prepped and ready to go.
I got to follow the bed as they wheeled Chantelle down the hospital’s narrow corridors towards the theatre, before being asked to take a quick left and enter the changing room where I stripped out of my clothes and donned some doctor’s garments. (And when I say doctor’s garments I mean literally a doctor’s garments. His were the only ones my fat frame would fit in!).
I joined Chantelle in the waiting area once more, as the final preparations were administered, before I was asked to go and sit in a little room while they took her in, gave her the spinal anaesthetic (or whatever that is called) and basically started opening her up.
It wasn’t long though before I got the go ahead to enter and I was led through the operating theatre to a little stool next to Chantelle’s head, where I sat touching her face and holding her hand as the doctor’s feverishly worked on opening her up and bringing our little premature daughter into this world.
I sat there for what must have been literally the shortest of time, before I gasped in excitement as I saw a little blue hand poke up into my vision. Then, without any hassle at all, my ice blue baby was lifted clean out of Chantelle and handed to the paediatrician who immediately set to work stabilising Jessica while the other attending surgeons returned to the important work of sewing up my wife again.
That moment when my daughter came out and let out a scream must rank as one of the most joyous and overwhelming moments every in my life.
Quickly color flooded into her body, and the doctor held up our most prized asset to the world, before wrapping her up and holding her so that mommy could see.
Then she was returned to her little cart full of tubes and whatnot, and I was asked to follow as she was whisked down the passage and straight to the NICU incubator, where the paediatrician and sisters immediately got to work on hooking her up and inserting all the necessary tubes and sensors into our little miracle.
It felt like forever that I stood there, sending smses by the 100 and waiting for that all important moment when I would be allowed in, see my child and touch her for the very first time.
The joy that I felt, or rather still feel, is just to much to describe – it is simply sheer, unadulterated happiness that washes over you as the pride takes hold and you want to scream out to the heavens and introduce the world to your child.
My baby, my daughter, my Jessica, lying there in her little heated bed, obscured by all the life giving equipment but alive – alive and breathing and fighting to grow.
Her skin is incredibly soft and she is just absolutely gorgeous – the most beautiful baby girl in the world. I laugh as I write this because to me babies always look a little alien and grotesque – and everyone always told me wait until I had one of my own. They were right. My daughter is the most beautiful little person I have ever seen.
As for mommy, well Chantelle was eventually wheeled back in, wound closed up, but unfortunately in a lot of pain and on a lot of medication. Unfortunately the severity of the cuts, a horizontal cut on along the pubic line and a vertical one down from the navel in order to facilitate Jessica falling out rather than being pulled out, meant that she wasn’t able to see Jessica any more than those initial few seconds on the operating table, but it didn’t matter. Baby was alive, she was alive and I was there to act as the hands, feet and eyes from mommy dearest.
Talking about hands and feet, one thing that did throw me a bit was when I was asked to bring in the nappies and supplies for the baby – something we had absolutely no clue that we were meant to have provided on the big day! So I had to quickly make a mental note, jump into the car and race down to the local Kuilsriver pharmacy to pick up the necessary supplies – much to my bemusement and Chantelle’s annoyance of course!
Still, other than that slight hiccup which arose out of a simple lack of communication and more importantly as a result of the suddenness of the whole situation, the Netcare Hospital in Kuilsriver is a fantastic place for mommy and baby to recuperate in. The staff are all absolute angels, fantastic in their work and care for us all, in other words a home I am happy to leave my wife to spend the next three or four nights in any my daughter the next five weeks!
So far things are looking good. As the doctor said, Jessica is obviously a premature baby and thus has all the risks that come associated with that. However, she weighed in at a good 1.4 kg, her development was good, all her bits and pieces are in place, she is able to breath on her own, her heart is beating correctly and for now she has avoided all the nasty things like blood on the brain, malfunctioning heart bits and the like.
But she will remain in intensive care in the NICU for at least five weeks and strict visiting restrictions will be in place to avoid any chance of infection occurring. That means that mommy and daddy can see her any time they want (after washing hands on entering the unit of course!), but granny and grandpa can only see her once and once only in the next five week period.
As for everyone else, you will have to rely on my photos and commentary I’m afraid.
But in summary, my little long-legged daughter is alive, and happily fighting for her life. Her chances of making it are good, but we are of course far from being out of the woods just yet. So keep us in your prayers and thoughts, and hopefully in five weeks time we’ll properly introduce little Jessica Madison Lotter to the world – without all the drama this time around! ;)
P.S. And thank you to each and every one of you for all the love and support we received. It was a fantastic feeling to know how many people we can love and rely on in this world.