Monday, December 14, 2009

Three months later

The first few weeks were a little rocky, but Bryce has risen to the challenge of life outside the NICU, and we are thrilled with how well he's been doing. For those who are keeping score at home, here's the quarterly rundown.

Feeding/Growth: Bryce has continued to thrive on the breastmilk and Elecare diet. He's doubled his weight since he came home (12.1 lbs today!), and his length has been increasing steadily (22" long). He's still on a mix of nursing/bottling (typically 4/3), and he almost always finishes an entire 4 oz. bottle of 24-calorie-per-ounce fortified breastmilk. His feeding problems are minor and steadily diminishing, though he still aspirates (chokes) an average of 1-2 times with every meal. He's still quite small for his adjusted age, but if you put him in a lineup with other three-month-olds, I don't think most people would finger him as a preemie.

Neurological: We think that Bryce is maturing, but since he can't communicate, gauging his progress is more art than science. The doctors ask us questions like "Does he recognize Mom and Dad?" or "Does he reach for things?", and we typically answer yes. However, as I lamented in an earlier post, it's hard to know whether those smiles for Daddy are actually a consequence of my presence, or simply a little bit of gas. That being said, he is more engaged with the world around him now. He's using his hands a lot more, he seems more excited when people interact with him, and I swear that he even laughed at me a few nights ago! Also, his pediatrician and therapists assure us that he's on the right track, so we're cautiously optimistic that any developmental delays will be on the mild end of the spectrum.

Ears: I'm not really sure what to think about Bryce's ears. There is no doubt that he can hear, but he failed three hearing tests before he finally passed one, so either the tests are about as reliable as Logan's electronic toys, or we're going to eventually learn that his hearing is functional but not quite perfect. We know that the cleft palate, which will eventually be repaired, can affect hearing, so we're hopeful that he'll outgrow any current problems.

Eyes: Yet another "wait and see." He has at least decent vision, which he regularly uses to charm Mommy, Daddy and even extended family by mirroring their smiles. He will track interesting toys in all directions, and even turns his head to follow especially exciting moving objects (big brother Logan, usually). We have noticed a few peculiarities with his eyes: one pupil is noticeably smaller than the other (just like Daddy!), and the corners of his eyes are very dark (consequence of the laser surgery?). More news on this early in the new year.

Lungs: Bryce's respiratory system has quickly risen to the top of the list of things that keep me awake at night, although in truth he's probably doing better than most babies who have their premature lungs ravaged by mechanical ventilation for six weeks. It's the reason why we'll be spending the holidays at home for the first time ever, and also the reason why I'm hesitant to take Logan out in public. I'm pretty sure that everyone who reads this blog knows that Bryce has been diagnosed with Chronic Lung Disease (also known as Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia), but it wasn't until the past few weeks that the damage became apparent to a medical layman such as myself. Recently, Bryce has become a lot more active: he enjoys sitting up and even standing. However, when he exerts himself, it doesn't take long before he starts panting and wheezing in a way that reminds me of an overweight smoker at the top of a long flight of stairs. The doctor listened to him this morning and said that we shouldn't worry as long as these episodes don't last several minutes, but I'm still a little concerned about what the future will hold, and I'm downright terrified of what might happen if he should catch pneumonia or RSV. If you're interested, the mother of a darling 3-yr-old micro-preemie recently wrote a fabulous piece on life with CLD/BPD; I highly recommend it.

He passed his pre-op appointment today with flying colors, so Bryce will be having surgery to repair his inguinal and umbilical hernias at the crack of dawn on Wednesday. Christie and I are both more than a little anxious, but we're trying hard to remind ourselves that he's conquered much more at a much younger age, and that we're entrusting him to some very capable hands. If you have any positive energy to spare, please keep Bryce in your thoughts and prayers on the 16th! Print this post


  1. Best of luck on the upcoming surgery and please keep us posted. Bryce is making such good progress!

    Your analogy to the overweight smoker climbing the stairs is a great one. About a year post-NICU I ordered up a copy of Eliza's NICU record (an interesting read). I kept seeing these references to "emphysema" on her x-ray reports and spoke with the neonatologist who pointed out that emphysema and chronic lung disease pretty well manifest themselves the same way and that radiologists often note "emphysema" on the baby's x-ray reports.

  2. Jason and Christie~I read every post and love all the pictures and videos :) I will be saying extra prayers for Bryce on Wednesday.
    Love you!

  3. Dear Jason and Christie, I like Roxanne read all your posts. I am so very proud of you. I pray every day for your family. Bryce will get more prayers Wednesday. Love and miss you! Betsy

  4. Jason and Christie, what wonders you have done. We send all positive energy and prayers your way knowing you will be abundantly blessed. It is called faith. Faith in you, in Bryce and in the doctors. When Bryce wakes up, he will be comforted at the sound of your voices. That is so important.
    All our love to you,
    Grandma & Grandpa