Charlie’s HOME!

And on the 19th day in the NICU, they said GO HOME!

We were tentatively looking forward to Monday the 19th (35w2d) as his coming home day for about a week prior. His attending neonatologist projected Monday as his discharge date if all continued to progress as it was tracking. The nurses are MUCH more conservative and they told us not to get our hopes up, so it was hard to know what to think.

(Too late, our hopes were up, of course!)

Last week, (34 weeks), things just happened REALLY fast. Charlie was exposed to his first bottle and over the course of a few days he ramped up to consistently hitting his minimum ML intakes. He also quickly started becoming very demanding for his food and started asking for it on his own instead of waiting for his scheduled care times.

On Friday the 16th, he officially was put on a cue based schedule – meaning, they wouldn’t give him his bottle unless he asked (or if it had been 4 hours since last meal, since that is the max he can go right now without eating). He was still getting what he didn’t finish through his feeding tube. They decided they would pull his feeding tube on Saturday the 17th to see how he’d do, since he was eating more than 75% of what was offered to him by bottle. (Once the feeding tube is pulled, they like to observe baby for another 48 hours to ensure they are continuing to hit their minimum intakes and are continuing to gain weight before they commit to a discharge date.)

I was SO excited to get to the hospital on Saturday to get his tube pulled!!!!! But, Charlie had already taken things into his own hands . . . when I arrived, it was already out and I had learned he pulled it himself on Friday night and so they just decided to leave it out!!!

Saturday went great – he continued to ask for his food and exceeded his required amounts. Monday was firmed up as our discharge date and I was invited to room-in with him in a postpartum room on Sunday with NO heart monitors!

Sunday night I had a LONG talk with his nurse and she eased a lot of my first time mom fears and anxieties about taking home baby . . . especially taking home one so young and small. She assured me they wouldn’t release him if he wasn’t ready, that all he needs to do is continue to eat, sleep and grow and he can do that just fine at home.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how delicate he still really is . . . but, he was supposed to stay on the inside for another 5 weeks! It’s more about his gestational age and less about his chronological age right now. We have to be extra careful with him until he hits his original due date . . . and not take him out of the house unless absolutely necessary. And no one with even so much as a sniffle can come over and be around him. He has a weakened immune system and immature respiratory system so something minor to you and me could land him in the hospital. Thank goodness the weather is lovely and we can spend lots of time on our patio and walking the neighborhood!

(And I want to get one of those car seat signs that says, “STOP! I’m a PREEMIE! Do not touch me unless you ask my mommy!” but He Who Shall Not Be Named thought that was a little much.)

So, anyway . . . here we are!!! And we’ve survived almost a full 24 hours home! Thanks to our training in the NICU, we know Charlie a lot better than if we just came home right after delivery and we have a lot of the mechanics on things down as far as diapers, meal prep, how to comfort him, etc. so thankfully nighttime wasn’t complete and utter chaos (yet).

But, it is definitely going to take a little bit to get down a routine for tag teaming at night so that I still have a prayer of getting a good stretch of sleep. We’re lucky in that he sleeps for about 3 hour stretches right now, but there’s just always a lot going on since there are tons of bottle parts, pump parts, fortified milk mixing, I still have to pump . . . that the time between meals is really chewed up just prepping for the next one. One of us has to be downstairs prepping a bottle while the other changes a diaper. And then, after he eats, due to his reflux he gets uncomfortable after a bottle and someone has to sit with him rubbing his back until he falls asleep.

Well . . . baby is up . . . no time to proof read or talk about any of the fun things, so I’ll be back to post more on all that later!!!

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