Monday, July 27, 2009

Perfection with a little work.

The next two weeks were spent in the Prince George Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where Scott and I were taught anything you could ever need or want to know about babies. We learned to give baths, change diapers, clean the belly button area, and breast feed (the breast feeding was mainly my domain!) We also learned to adjust wires, gavage feed (he was tube fed for the first week as he was too weak to eat), weigh and take his temperature. Scott and I spent most nights in the hospital with him, sleeping together in the single bed they had in his room, not an easy feat if you've ever seen Scott in person...he's not a little guy!

Lucky for us the only true problem he had was eating and that resolved with soother time, and bottle feeds (they helped to develop the muscles in his cheeks for suckling). He did have three decels within the first two days after his birth (his breathing and heart rate dropped off) but that also resolved in a short period of time. He was the perfect preemie and we were told as long as he continued to gain weight we would be able to bring him home sooner than expected.

Before being released he had to pass a car seat challenge test (a preemie is weaker than the normal infant, and due to the position they are put in while in a car seat, they can stop breathing after a period of time because they can't lift their chin off their chests). He passed the hour long test with flying colors!

Gabe was ready to leave after 13 days in the NICU. As his parents we were given careful instructions on how to keep him safe and healthy. We were told that for the next three months we shouldn't take him out to any public places (like malls, restaurants, etc) because his immune system was still immature and any cold or flu bug could create infection and land him right back in the NICU. We were also told that sterilizing bottles, which we used strictly for vitamin D drops and Iron drops, and sterilizing his soother everyday was a must. The nurses informed us that we would not be able to take him on long road trips without stopping every hour to let him out of his car seat so that his little muscles could take a break. Finally we were given a handful of exercises to do with him in order to build his strength and it was stressed how vitally important tummy time would be for him.

Convinced that we had everything in hand we were given the go ahead to leave. We were taking our baby home and I don't think I've been anymore scared in my entire life.

To say that Scott and I over did it in the first few months would be an understatement. We sterilized everything; his soothers, nipples, bottles, crib, changing pad (to the point that it was falling apart). We washed our hands so many times a day that both of our hands would crack and bleed. The trip we had to make every month for him to see his paediatrician was an hour and a half and we would stop at Vanderhoof every time to let him out of the car seat. I sat in the back seat with him, with a mirror under his nose for the first four months of his life to ensure he was still breathing...needless to say...we were pretty exhausted by the time he was six months old.

We also had appointments with our family doctor every month, nurses who specialized in infant massage, and infant development coming to do home visits to assess him and give us even more exercises to do. We also had appointments with the child development center because he wasn't using the left side of his body and was once again given a multitude of physical therapy exercises for him. Gabe was probably the most well cared for infant in all of Fraser Lake and we were probably the most informed parents in that little town as well.

We were told that certain products on the market we would not be allowed to use as it could stunt his physical development even more than it already was. We weren't allowed to use "Bumbos", as it encourages kids not to develop proper muscles in their backs and tummys for sitting, not to use "exersaucers" or "jolly jumpers" as it encouraged arched backs and pointed toes which would affect his walking. And we were also told to expect that he would be six weeks behind every other baby his age, and in fact not to even count his age from his birthday, but from his gestation.

I know a lot of people think six weeks isn't very much, and its not when kids get older, but at six weeks old babies have their first smiles, we got our first smile from him when he was 3 months old. Sitting up, and crawling were also behind. He didn't follow objects with his eyes or grasp for things when most kids do either. Eventually though, at about a year, Gabe caught up. But for those first few months when you're waiting with baited breath for your child to interact with you it was difficult. And of course there were also those people who would make comments like "Oh, hes not doing that yet?" or "my kid was doing that months ago", etc etc. I know I shouldn't have let it bother me, but it did. I hated people judging him. It wasn't his fault he was a little behind.

For all of our worries over Gabe he has become a very animated, intelligent little boy. He makes me laugh everyday, and I wouldn't change anything about him. To me he's perfection. I love him with every grain of my being.


Jessica said...

Awww, little guy. Those commenting people should stuff it! Avery was behind other kids too. She didn;t crawl on her knees until she was almost 10 months, and everyone would hold her hands expecting her to walk, which she didn't do until 14.
I love your blog, you have a talent for writing.

carrie said...

Aww thanks! Yeah i hate when people compare their kids. People get weirdly competitive about what their kids can do compared to others. Kids all have different time tables. Its natural.