Finally got to visit Alicia in her new home today. It was nice, but crowded. I felt like a new student in a new classroom on the first day of school. Everything was strange and unfamiliar. I felt kind of out of my element. I never thought I'd say this, but I actually miss the NICU.
For the past few months, I've kept referring to our new home as "the step-down unit" because I really had no idea what this place was called. All I knew was that it was the place that babies went once they graduated from the NICU. Well, I finally decided to do some research and I found out that in our hospital this unit in Chinese is 新生兒中重度病房 (xin sheng er zhong zhong du bing fang), roughly translated it's the Newborn Medium Care Facility or SBR in English.
Now after being in the in the NICU for several months, I've gotten used to the abbreviations being the simplified forms of more complicated terms like, "Neonatal Intensive Care Unit." So naturally, when Linda told me that Alicia is now in the SBR, I thought that the letters probably stood for some complicated Latin terms. Come to find out that not everything in the hospital requires one to carry around a dictionary to understand. SBR simply stands for "Sick Baby Room." Imagine that. Guess whoever was naming the rooms ran out of steam when they got to naming this one. Haha.
So the SBR, well, it's nice in that it gives Linda and I a sense of progress. Alicia is getting better and one step closer to coming home. However, as I said earlier, it takes getting used to.
First off, the place is huge! Where there were maybe about 30 beds in the NICU, there are close to 50 beds in the SBR. Also before in the NICU, the nurse to baby ratio was 1 to 2 or 1 to 3, now it's 1 to 6. So all the personal attention we were used to getting is now more scarce. Both Linda and I noticed that while the nurses in the SBR are very professional and all do a great job, they simply do not have the time to shoot the breeze with you even if it is about your child. Practically, it's just not possible. They've got five other families to attend to. If they stand there and talk to each one for ten minutes, it'll take them an hour just to make their rounds. So pretty much, it's "give the stats and move on." Of course, if we ask questions the nurses are patient to answer them. But if you don't catch them right away, they're off to the next family.
Don't get me wrong, the nurses are still really sweet and caring. They simply have more people to attend to.
But it's all right. We'll keep working on them. =) I'll work my charm and see if we can't get them to warm up a bit. Haha.
Alicia's doing really well. She's 1830 grams today, that's just over 4 pounds. And still breathing really well on her own.
Today when I got to her incubator, she looked different to me. I went down my mental checklist. Does she look longer? No. Chubbier? No. Skinner? No. More defined? No. What is it? Then I realized. It was the cannula. It was gone. She no longer had anything attached to her face or up her nose. It was just her. Well, almost. She's still got the feeding tube down her throat. But I'm sure that'll be out before we know it.
Alicia is truly throwing off all the shackles that held her bound yet sustained her during the early days of her life. Soon, and very soon, I believe she will be completely free. No more wires, no more monitors, no more blindfolds, no more incubator. Just her.
One of the other things I had to adjust to in the SBR was the close quarters. When we were in the NICU, our closest neighbor was maybe three feet from us. Here. They are literally right next to us. I used to have to crane my neck to see the other kids. Now, I look down and whoop there he or she is. Part of me is like, dude, why you all up in our grill. Then I realize, that I'm talking to a newborn, and he probably wouldn't know what it meant to be all up in someone's grill even if he were old enough to talk and understand me. So, I just let it go. =)
Alicia hasn't been eating as well since she's been in the SBR. She used to be able to finish all of her milk on her own. But now she's only drinking 8cc of her 33cc on her own. Don't know what that means, but the nurses don't seem terribly concerned. Slowly, they say, she'll work her way up.
One other odd thing is that downstairs in the NICU she was pooping 6-8 times a day, today, as of visiting hours, she still hadn't pooped yet. Can one of you medical professionals out there explain to me what this means? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Or is it nothing of concern? I think it's only been one day since she last pooped. The nurse said that they're usually not too concerned until it's been three days between bowel movements. Hmm... we'll have to follow up on that I think.
Alicia's little playmates are all coming out one by one now. A few months ago I mentioned Benjamin and Scarlett. Just yesterday, two of my closest friends from high school just gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Abygale. Congrats Steve and Christina. Can't wait to meet her.
On a side note, tomorrow is Alicia's original due date. Can't believe how far we've come. Praise the Lord for his presence, his mercy, his grace and his sustainence.