I don't know if it's my trickster nature or because I like seeing the expression on her face, I really enjoy surprising my wife from time to time.
Earlier this week, I decided that I was going to take Friday off and go down early to see Linda and Alicia. So on Monday, I wrote and asked my boss if it would be all right with her if I took the day off on Friday. She being the sweet person that she is, gave me the go-ahead.
Now I could have easily called Linda and told her that I was coming down early this week to see them. But I decided that it might be fun to just show up and see how she reacted. From experience, I've learned that for a surprise to go off, it takes a lot of forethought and planning. So all week whenever I spoke to Linda, I just acted as if I wouldn't see her until our usually scheduled Friday night.
When Thursday rolled around, I was pretty excited. All day at work, I kept thinking about how I was going to see my girls by the end of the day. I wanted to post on Facebook that I was thrilled about being able to be with my girls that night, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise. Finally, at 5:00 I shut down my computer, left the office building and caught a bus to the train station.
On my way to the train, I decided to give Linda a call to throw her off my scent. During our conversation she asked me, where I was. It took me a second to think of an answer that wouldn't give me away, but eventually I just said, "I'm on my way home." That was sort of true. Just not the home she was thinking of.
After talking to Linda, I decided to turn off my cell phone in case she called again. I wouldn't want her to call while I was on the train and for her to hear something like a train announcement that would give me away.
It took me quite sometime to get to the hospital, and by the time I got there, visiting hours were nearly over. So I headed upstairs to the NICU, went through the usual ritual and strode into the NICU. Linda was sitting by Alicia's incubator with her back to the door. Perfect. I walked up behind her and stroked her back. Linda jumped a bit wondering who in the world in the NICU would touch her back like that. When she turned around, you should have seen her face. It was a mix of confusion, joy, perplexion and excitement. Our friends in the NICU also noticed that I had shown up unexpectedly, and immediately the questions began to fly. "Baba, why are you here? When did you come? Don't you need to work tomorrow? How did you get here? Did you come from the train station?" I answered the questions as I settled into the chair in front of Alicia's incubator and greeted her. I then told Linda of my plot to surprise her, and she just laughed. By now she's used to my random surprises.
I mean she was definitely surprised by me suddenly showing up at the NICU when I wasn't due to arrive for another 24 hours. But she wasn't surprised by the fact that I surprised her. =)
It was good to see Alicia. She had definitely gotten bigger since the last time I saw her. Her cheeks were fuller and she had more meat on her bones. Unfortunately, her eyes were covered to protect them and let them heal after the laser procedure.
Thanks for praying for her before, during and after her procedure. She's recovering really well. One concern was that her breathing might regress after the surgery, but praise God, Alicia got right back on track after the anesthesia wore off. She's breathing just as well as, if not better than before she had the laser treatment.
Right now most of the time she's breathing air with 21% oxygen saturation (same as room air) and even when she does need help, which is rarer and rarer, she doesn't often need air that's more than 30% oxygen. In fact, the other night, while Linda was Alicia, she noticed that Alicia's blood oxygen levels were up to 100%. Usually, the nurses aim for about 86%-95%, so Linda asked if the nurse could turn down Alicia's oxygen levels. What Linda didn't realize was that Alicia was already at the lowest vent setting, so the nurse couldn't turn down the oxygen even if she wanted to. How's that for progress?
Because she's been doing well, the doctors have started Alicia on CPAP trials. This is when they set the vent to push a constant flow of air into Alicia's lungs. This helps to keep Alicia's lungs inflated, then it's up to Alicia to do the inhaling and exhaling on her own. For the past few days, they've let Alicia practice like this for about 20 minutes during each shift. The goal is to lengthen the time she spends on this setting, until eventually she can handle inhaling and exhaling on her own without any help from the ventilator. Pray with us that Alicia will get stronger and stronger and better and better at this.
One thing that will help Alicia be able to breathe better is if she can get bigger. The doctors have mentioned a couple of times over the past couple of weeks that they're concerned that Alicia isn't gaining enough weight. One possible reason they're suspecting is that Alicia's heart has been beating faster than normal the past few days, especially today. Today, her heart rate got up to about 200 bpm a few times. Her normal resting heart rate is usually somewhere between 150 or 160 bpm. Doctors suspect that her heart may be working extra hard because she may be a little anemic (low red blood cell count). So they decided to give her another blood transfusion to help her. They'll see if this will calm her heart down.
As hard as it is to see our little girl pricked with another IV, we are thankful that this may be able to help her to lower her heartrate, and in turn help her to save some calories for growing instead of keeping her heart going.
Thankfully, Alicia is still growing. She's up to 1256 grams today, up from 1224 grams yesterday. Who knows where she'll be tomorrow! Maybe breatk 1300 grams? That would be a great miracle.
Keep praying friends! We're getting there. We'll have our little girl home with us before we know it.