Saturday, March 8, 2008

Playing the Waiting Game

So we're still in the NICU, but out of the danger zone and things are looking good for being able to go home tomorrow sometime.

A lot of people have asked about this jaundice, why it's such a big deal. Don't all babies get jaundice? Yes, and that was my thought at first: aren't the doctors taking this too seriously?! But I've learned a bit about it while I'm here, and I understand better why all this is necessary. It makes it bearable, for sure.

Jaundice is what you call the overload of biliruben in the blood. Biliruben is an element in the blood that the body tries to get rid of, through the liver, which isn't fully developed yet, and through excretions (poopies). If there's too much of it that the body can't get rid of fast enough, it begins to try to escape thru the skin...thus the orange skin tone. That's what most babies deal with. But if it builds up too much, it crosses into the brain and can cause a form of brain damage that will impair motor skills and coordination. For instance, most babies biliruben levels will rise from birth until about their 7th day of life, usually up to a level of 10, then begin to drop off as the liver develops. Chandler's level on Tuesday was 13.8 when he went under the lights (more about the lights later). When he came off the lights 24 hours later, he was down to 11.7. While this was high, it was still in the safe range, so the doctors let us go home with some at home treatment (the biliblanket). But once the levels reach 18, it becomes worrisome, and once it hits 25, there's probably damage being done. On Thursday, his level was up to 15.7, and by Friday morning it was 17.8. That's when we returned to the NICU to go under the lights again.

So, it's been discovered that sunlight helps the body in the fight. Obviously we can't get him in direct sunlight 24 hours a day, because it's not out that long, and he'd be sunburned. So we have these lamps that give just UV light, which is what he needs, and doesn't burn him. And it's working. The NICU lights are much stronger than the biliblanket. The NICU has him laying on a biliblanket, and has not one but two lamps on him. This is extreme phototherapy. By 2 am today, after about 12 hours under the lights, he was down to 12.7, and by another 12 hours later (2 pm today) he was down to 10.7. The doctor said this is proof not only that the lights are working, but that his liver may be working as well. Our goal is to get him down to at least 6 before we can go home.

One reason he's had such a hard time is because in delivery he had suction attached to his head, which popped off three times, leaving a bruise. As the body breaks down (heals) that bruise, the waste turns into biliruben. The amazing thing is, Charlie also had suction pop off three times, and his bruise was way worse...yet he didn't get jaundice!! I'm now even more aware of what a miracle it was.

One miracle in Chandler's case is that he's eating well. Usually jaundiced babies are lethargic and don't want to eat, which not only slows the process (no food, no poop), but also can cause other problems due to dehydration. Yet Chandler has been alert often and has been eating and pooping like a champ! Only a mother can say that, huh? ;)

So there you have it, the full story. I know I was going to post the delivery details...and I'm still hoping to get to that. I'll warn you in the title so you don't have to read it if you've got a weak stomach. ;)

If you are a friend or family who's waiting to see this guy, thank you so much for your patience. We are definitely looking forward to getting home and reunited with all three of our boys! Thank You, Nana and Big Daddy for caring for Charlie and Chance - and keeping them distracted - while we go thru all this.

Jaundice lamps

I have more pics, of course, but no way to upload yet. I'm looking forward to nipping this jaundice in the bud, and getting settled in at home- and taking pictures!! It's hard enough to not be able to hold him...and how many pictures can you take of him under those (blue) lights?! Hehe...we have fun times ahead.


Scott said...

Sorry to here Ang. Keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers!

Austin and Ashley Evans said...

I am so sorry Angie. I haven't had a computer for a few days, but know that so many people are praying for you and your family. Word spreads fast and so many are lifting you guys up. Please keep us updated and let me know if I can do ANYTHING! I love you all dearly!

Mells said...

I'm so glad that Chandler is in good hands. The lights seem to be working for him and that's such a blessing! Thanks for keeping us posted. We love you all and are continuing to pray. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow - Boyscout had Jaundice as well when he was born - it wasn't discovered till 5 days later, but he had to have the purple blanket for 3 days at home, and I played the waiting game as well. He had all the things that Chandler had - suction cup, and oh boy was that kid lethargic and would fall asleep while nursing. Reading your information shed a light to me on why he had it - and I still wonder with his ADD sometimes, if his birth and the jaundice didn't have something to do with it.