It is hard to believe that Natalie is only 3 weeks old. Time in the NICU seems so much longer.
Yesterday afternoon we had a wonderful nurse who was so caring and supportive. She was asking me about what we had at home for Natters and what we were planning on buying. I was grateful to have a conversation where her coming home was assumed. It is incredible what difference the doctor or nurse's approach can make to our emotional state. Some can make you feel optimistic even when delivering bad news and others feel the need to remind you how serious things are when you are trying to savor a rare peaceful moment.
While I was there the attending came running over with a big grin on his face. He asked me how I was doing and I asked him how I SHOULD be doing. I really wanted a doctor's perspective on her progress since I have no idea what to expect at this point. He said he was really happy with her and where things are. The last u/s showed no evidence of blood clots much to everyone's delight and there were no more signs of infection. She is requiring much less respiratory support and the feedings (still through her intestines) are going well. We are now in a "chronic phase" and all we can do is be patient and wait for her to grow and heal. She may be on the vent 2-3 more weeks while we are waiting. I am so glad to know what he expects because otherwise I would be worried every day that she was not making faster progress.
It is hard to think of another few weeks on the vent but better to know what is ahead (as much as anyone can make predictions in the NICU). As my friend Cass mentioned in a comment, I have a love/hate relationship with the vent. On one side it sustains my daughter's very life (and there is no greater positive than that). On the other side it is also leaving her lungs with long term damage, makes her uncomfortable, leaves me unable to hold her and overall symbolizes how ill she is. When she is able to breath without it I may collapse from joy. In the meantime, I am going to sit as patiently as I can and wait for her body to grow and heal.
I wish I could share with you the smile on the neonatologist's face while we talked. That said far more to me than his words (although I keep repeating everything he said in my head for reassurance). It is hard for us to see the big picture when there are so many little dips along the way but I tell myself if the director of the NICU is happy, then I am happy.
Once again I am amazed and humbled by the love and support Natalie has received. The comments on this blog really help to bolster my spirits and I plan to print them out for her own special baby book. Yesterday a card arrived from my mother in law's coworkers and it brought tears to my eyes. We are so blessed to know that we are not alone in loving her and wanting the very best future for Natalie. Thank you all so much for you prayers and love. Natalie is a strong girl and is showing us all how to put up a good fight. I am very proud to be her mother.