London is a remarkably happy baby. She tolerates so much and cries very little. We hear this from nearly everyone London meets. I tell them I have a theory. For the first 3.5 months of London’s life she had medical professionals treating her around the clock. In addition to the diaper change, temperature check, and respiratory check every four hours, she was also interrupted with head ultrasounds, echocardiograms, at times shots, the placing of a new IV line, and physical therapy. This is the NICU norm. For the baby, they assume this is what life is like, this is how all babies live out their early days. So, what is crying going to do?
That is the attitude London embraced. To make London cry now, you almost have to give her an ROP exam. Her frightening start and all the procedures that it necessitated made her one tough babe. I like to think that most long-term NICU babies also graduate as super tough and tolerant little things, but I have a few reasons to believe that that is not the case because all too often nurses would tell us how amazing London is with a shot, for example, when she would barely cry for one second in response to the needle, but the boy next-door would wail for a couple minutes.
In a way, the NICU schedule of around the clock treatments or feedings continues when some preemies come home. Usually with full-term babies it’s the baby waking the parents up, but with preemies, it is quite often the parents waking the baby up. Whether it is a feeding time, a cannula check, a breathing check, or just a general are-you-alive-over-there check, London’s day and night were interrupted by her parents for quite some time.
Below are some pictures and a video that only give you a sliver of the stuff London and other preemies endure at the NICU.
One of the less intrusive procedures, an echocardiogram when London was not even a week old. This one revealed a PDA, which was resolved over the two weeks following this echo.
As London’s lungs strengthened, she was placed on CPAP. Of course, I loved the progress, but I had a strong dislike of CPAP because it covered up most of her face. It was nearly impossible to see both of her eyes from the same angle when she was wearing her snorkel-like attachment. It drove me crazy, but London, always so chill, tolerated it like a champ.
An every four-hour checkup on London, one of her “cares.” This particular picture was taken during London’s three-chin phase of life.
It was May by the time of this echo. As you can see, it’s no big deal to her. She’s about ready to fall asleep mid-echo while nurse Eileen chats away in the background about how busy the NICU is that morning. We thought London was done with echocardiograms by this stage, but the doctor ordered another battery of tests to see why she was so tired and not eating. On this particular day, day 95 in the NICU, it was London’s peaceful state of mind that helped calm us down.