Today Elise saw the ophthalmologist. He sees all preemies around 31 or 32 weeks to check their blood vessels to makes sure they are developing correctly. Many preemies have ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) where their blood vessels do not develop correctly due to receiving high amounts of oxygen post-birth and not being full term.
We were hoping Elise would do well with the exam today. When Elise was born, she only needed 39% oxygen and worked her way down from there. Of course during her PDA surgery she was at 100%, but once the surgery was over, she worked her way down again. Even when she needs extra boosts of oxygen during different parts of the day, the nurses don't have to turn her up greatly. She usually sits between 22-28% of oxygen.
The nurses told us that they usually advise parents to not watch the eye doctor perform his exam. He uses a head piece to hold the baby's eye lids open and the babies usually scream the entire time. We decided to take the nurse's advice and head to lunch during the exam.
Upon our return, the doctor left us his exam notes. Sure enough, Elise DID do very well today! He DID NOT find signs of ROP! He will follow up with Elise every Thursday because there is a faint chance that ROP could appear because her blood vessels are not fully developed until she is full term. However, for being a 32 weeker, her blood vessels are developing right on track! Once again, we thank God that another NICU bullet has been dodged by our miracle baby.
Our poor tiger...once we got back to the NICU after lunch we took turns holding her. We wanted to try to sneak a picture of her with her eyes open, but she was not opening them! Her eye lids were a little red and puffy...we could tell she had been through a battle while we enjoyed a nice outdoor lunch!
As for me, I had my 6 week post-birth appointment with Dr. Deaton today. My blood pressure is back to normal and my scar looks great. I still get some fluid retention in my ankles and my fingers. I find this to be especially true when I get heated, however, Dr. Deaton assured me that the swelling would continue to improve over time. I had a lot of swelling by the time I reached Dr. Deaton and it didn't come on over night, hence it won't come off over night. He also approved me to start dieting and increasing my exercise routines. Weight Watchers has a great program for nursing mothers. I started the plan Monday and feel great so far! I am being very careful so I don't see a decrease in my milk supply, but rather keep up my pumping schedule and lose some weight at the same time. Sadly, I'm not one of those women that can pump and the weight "falls off." The weight has never fallen off easily for me...so who am I kidding when I think sticking pumpers to udders would do the trick?!
Comedy aside, I am really ready to get this weight off. Like I posted very early on, one of the ways I dealt with the loss of my mother was to take pity on myself and eat whatever I wanted. I "deserved" that fattening meal or that extra dessert because I was grieving a huge loss. Then I got pregnant and the eating only worsened. I am physically (and most importantly...emotionally) ready to get this weight off.
We also need to tell you..........drumroll please................ Elise is 2 pounds 6 ounces!! They are bumping up her extra calories in the milk to 26 calories tomorrow because she is handling the 25 calories so well. When the doctors and residents made their rounds today and stopped by Elise's bedside, the staff neonatologists decided to drill the residents with 1,000 + 1 questions about Elise and her medical journey...in front of us! I didn't mind it...it was like a mini classroom right by Elise's isolette. G tried to help out some of the poor residents that couldn't come up with quick answers for their attendings. Dr. Ben Saad (one of the attendings) said, "Don't give them an easy ride Dr. Olsen!"
We are so fortunate to be at an educational hospital that takes its training of future neonatologists so seriously. Besides feeling bad for the residents when they didn't know the answers right away (ha!), we felt so reassured that Elise is truly in wonderful hands at St. Vincent's NICU. These neonatologists have so much knowledge and we are forever grateful that Elise is here and thriving due to them!
Continuing to thrive!
G & J & E