Nearing the Exit Door

Is it possible to have a panic attack from happiness and excitement?

We are looking at a Monday morning discharge if all goes well with Little Miss Minion. She passed her car seat challenge yesterday, which means that she is cleared to sit in the car seat, plus any other inclined seat, like a stroller. She did 90 minutes for the test, and then she looked so comfortable, we let her sleep in the seat for another 30 minutes until her next cares.

She now weighs a whopping 5 pounds, 11.1 ounces. She has tripled her birth weight in 3 months. Take that, full term babies! Her due date is this Thursday and she is progressing really well. She will be 0 adjusted and she can already eat, lift her head, move her head around, half-roll over, hold her pacifier in place, move things toward her mouth, follow objects with her eyes and turns toward noises.

The hard part is going to be keeping up with Preemie Protocol (I should copyright that) once we get home. This means limiting visitors, diligent handwashing, constant sanitizing, and generally being an antisocial, germophobic hypochondriac. Oh, wait. Did I say this was going to be hard? The Minion household is already doing this. 🙂

But seriously, Preemie Protocol is very important. Being a NICU graduate is a big deal and certain precautions have to be taken for as long as possible. For example: although she can breathe normally and does not have trouble on a daily basis, her lungs are still not as mature as a full term baby’s would be. This means that they are easily irritated and more susceptible to infection. Smokers-the smoke itself is an irritant, obviously, but so is the residual scent that stays on your clothes, skin, and hair. This is known as “third hand smoke” and is a big deal for Preemies. She will be very sensitive to scents for a long time, so this also means no perfume, body spray, cologne, or air fresheners. All of these things cause inflammation of the lungs, which leaves her open to infection.

Other general Preemie Protocols:

No smoking, perfumes, cologne, or other strong odors.

No public places or places with lots of people.

No day care until 1 year old (chronological).

Wash your hands or use sanitizer before holding or touching Little Miss Minion.

She is very sensitive in all areas of sensory perception. This means that she is easily overwhelmed with too much stimulus and goes into meltdown mode much faster than a full term baby. If you are going to hold her, you need to be prepared to keep her for at least 30 minutes. While you hold her, DO NOT stroke, rock, bounce, or otherwise bother her. Preemies hate light touches, and they desperately need quiet sleep time for brain development. Just knowing that she is being held is a big stimulus for her.

She takes her bottle sitting up, tilted slightly to one side. You need to be able to see her profile to ensure that she is sucking, swallowing, and breathing properly.

If you have been in contact with a sick person, stay home. If you feel even slightly off, stay home. If you have a fever, coughing, sore throat, stuffy nose–STAY HOME. Even the slightest infection or illness could send her straight back to the NICU or PICU (pediatric Intensive Care Unit). Any illness that affects her breathing or lungs will probably put her on a respirator. And NO, I am not kidding.

Since one of the only things we will be able to do with her until her immune system matures is go on walks, I have been thinking a lot about how to shield her from random strangers trying to touch her. The nurses and the hospital discharge class have warned that, since she will be so much smaller than an average 3 month old, people will be very inclined to comment about her and try to touch her. We do have a small stop sign to hang from whatever contraption she is sitting in, but judging from the general public’s complete lack of common sense, I see this being pretty much no help whatsoever. The other option, a quick sucker punch, is a little bit illegal. What to do? I bought a baby wearing harness thing in an effort to help this a little bit. I figure that people are much less likely to try to touch her when she is so close to me, facing away from them. If all else fails, I’m betting a loud “What the F&$% are you doing?” will at least make them go away.

People seem to forget that even though she looks like a regular baby, she will always be a Preemie.

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