Saturday, January 31, 2009

Going on our first walk

Carolyn went into the NICU this morning having heard that Max had some dark vomit on his clothing very early this morning. It was the vitamins again! Perhaps Carolyn is on to something with her suspicions.

But the big news today was that nurse J. suggested Carolyn unplug Max from his monitors and take him for a walk. Max clearly enjoyed it; he stared at the pictures on the wall, he turned to voices when people to spoke to him, and made the soft cooing noises we sometimes hear from him when he's particularly content. Carolyn even took Max out into the waiting area between the two nurseries (the step-down nursery remains closed for lack of business). When Carolyn walked Max around, the standard rules of the NICU were all suspended, including the first rule of the NICU, which is not to talk to the other parents. Carolyn had a pleasant chat with the only other parents that have been there as long as we have. Because of the complete lack of privacy in the NICU we can't avoid following their child's progress; nor have they been able to avoid following Max's. It was nice, for a few minutes at least, to admire each others' babies, like real parents.

Carolyn is also quietly polling the nurses for their opinion of whether Max should have surgery to attempt to correct his reflux. Nurse J. reminded Carolyn that Max has had severe reflux almost since the start, certainly since mid-December, and he's had several opportunities to overcome it. She also said that in her experience she seen only very few complications from the surgery.

As for Max's reflux today, I would grade his progress as only fair. He spit up a couple of times, but not very much, and once because of the accursed vitamins. He had a very smooth feeding in the early afternoon, but his 5:00 PM feed was tough, with Max showing obvious signs of discomfort.

Finally, the nurses and Carolyn managed to get Max to take his Maalox by mouth. This is a milestone in my opinion, because taking food by mouth is something Max failed spectacularly at his first attempt back in December. At the time, the NICU team pointed out that the mechanics of swallowing depend critically on having a functioning and organized brain, and they blamed Max's problems on his hydrocephalus. Getting Max to swallow his Maalox wasn't easy: they had to put the Maalox in his mouth and then get him interested in his pacifier. A few sucks, a swallow, and it was down.