Sunday, February 14, 2010

My God, It's Full of Stars

My God, It’s Full of Stars

Today when I got to the NICU and checked on Michael, he had his mouth open (as he often does), his eyes open (as he has started to do right before feedings) and his hands on his cheeks.  Although he looked like something between Macaulay Culkin  and Edvard Munch’s Scream, I like to think he was looking up at his isolette in with the same awe of Dave in 2001. 

After all, he and his brother have something no other preemie in the NICU has had before (besides blond hair): a nasal cannula with a ventilator.

[Preemies don’t have blond hair.  They just don’t.  Even those who end up blond later don’t have blond hair.  So it’s really weird that ours do.  Esp. since one of us has brown hair and one of us has black hair.]

A nasal cannula is just fancy hospital talk for “tubes up your nose.”  But these tubes are different.  Not only do they deliver oxygen, but the ventilator means that they give pressure, too.  This is good because if the twins stop breathing, as they are wont to do from time to time, the ventilator gives ‘em some extra breaths. 

It’s the first time they’ve combined the nose tubes and the ventilator for a preemie at this hospital.  Apparently the technology was conceived at USC’s L.A. Children’s Hospital (O.K., Louise, you win this round), but for us, it’s new.  The nurses are all very impressed with it.

The twins like it, too.  It means that they can touch their faces, as Michael has discovered, and tug on them without disconnecting terribly important breathing implements, such as the old nasal prongs (which scrunched up their faces) and the breathing mask (which covered their mouths and nose), both of which have to be secured with elastics (which leave indentations on their starting-to-get-chubby cheeks) and little do-rags (which leave their heads just the slightest bit smaller than if they didn’t have the hats).  Prior to nasal cannula insertion, the boys would, from time to time, pull their prongs out and their masks off, which is Not Good.  (Note: they CAN breathe on their own, just not for extended periods of time—say, longer than twenty minutes—and their lungs don’t always inflate fully).

The new get-up is also much quieter than the old get-up, which is nice because our boys do not like noise AT ALL. 

The new get-up also means that in addition to “kangaroo care” (where we hold the boys on our chests bare skin to bare skin), they can start “recreational breastfeeding.”

Now don’t laugh, but when I first saw “recreational breastfeeding” at week 31 on our “Care Chart” under “Parental Awareness,” I worried that it might mean something between the parents rather than something for the babies.  And I didn’t want to ask about it because I didn’t want my fears confirmed.  Hey!  I asked you not to laugh.

Turns out it just means that babies nurse without really feeding, as the whole “suck, swallow AND breathe” thing involves a lot of coordination.  For the babies, anyway.  So the recreational breastfeeding is like an intermediate step.

And they are so ready for it.  Last night, Wagner was in “kangaroo care” and starting to root, inching his way toward the nipple, licking his lips, so intent on his goal that he didn’t even notice the hairy chest.  How was he supposed to know that recreational breastfeeding doesn’t work on Dads?

Oh – and we’re now at week 32 with both boys over 3 pounds.  Yippee!  All of this means progress.  Which is probably why Michael had his hands on his face; not just because he can, but because he can’t believe we’ve come so far in just six weeks.

© 2010 Janine Kovac 


  1. Glad I could help out with the new technology :)

    ...just kidding. Good luck with everything!

  2. Niescja and I just loved the recreational breast feeding story LOL!

    All our best! Our thoughts and prayer are with you all.