Yesterday we got to start "kangaroo care" with sweet Becca. Being the mom and all, I got to go first, but John got his turn today. Hence, the names: John is now Captain Kangaroo, and Becca is my sweet little Roo. John does not yet know about his new name. I thought I'd go public first so that he can't fight it too much. So all you who have been known (for reasons unknown to me) to call my husband "Little Johnny Trombone," feel free to add this name to your repertoire.
Apart from being a children's t.v. star from the late '70's, how does one become Captain Kangaroo, you ask? Here's an explanation of kangaroo care from the March of Dimes website:
"Kangaroo care is the practice of holding your diapered baby on your bare chest (if you're the father) or between your breasts (if you're the mother), with a blanket draped over your baby's back. This skin-to-skin contact benefits both you and your baby.
You may be a little nervous about trying kangaroo care. If your baby is very small or sick, you may be afraid you'll hurt him. But you won't. Your baby knows your scent, touch and the rhythms of your speech and breathing, and he will enjoy feeling that closeness with you. Kangaroo care can help your baby:
- Maintain his body warmth
- Regulate his heart and breathing rates
- Gain weight
- Spend more time in deep sleep
- Spend more time being quiet and alert and less time crying
- Have a better chance of successful breastfeeding (kangaroo care can improve the mother's breastmilk production)
Kangaroo care has emotional benefits for you, too. It builds your confidence as you provide intimate care that can improve your baby's health and well being. You are giving something special to your baby that only you can give. By holding your baby skin-to-skin, you will feel the experience of new parenthood and closeness to your baby. Kangaroo care is healing in many ways, for both you and your baby.
Ask your NICU staff about its policy on kangaroo care. Some NICUs postpone kangaroo care until the infant is medically stable, while others use it from birth onward. Kangaroo care is safe and beneficial, even if your baby is connected to machines. Whatever your situation, kangaroo care is a precious way to be close to your baby. You will cherish this time.
Kangaroo Care: The Best You Can Do to Help Your Preterm Infant, by Susan M. Luddington-Hoe and Susan K. Golant (Bantam Books, 1993). "
Essentially, then, we got to hold Becca for the first time this weekend! It was so crazy and wonderful and slightly awkward. Since she can't maintain her own body temperature, we have to be really quick when moving her from her isolette to her "pouch" under the blankets, gown, etc. on our chests. You basically get her cuddled in there and don't move her. We each got to hold her like that for a little more than an hour. She's still got all her machines and leads hooked up to her, so you've got wires hanging everywhere, and it's hard to even see her just beneath your chin, but you could feel her squirming! John asked what it felt like yesterday, and the best analogy I could come up with is that it felt like holding a hamster in your hand. And, truth be told, Becca's really not all that much bigger than a hamster. She's definitely smaller than your average Guinea pig. But she's as slobbery as a kid with a candy apple! She left quite the little slobber pile on my chest when she was done. And she seems to be great keeping her body temperature up. She appears to take after her sister, Sasha, whose average body temp while sleeping is approximately 650 degrees. She was a hot little tamale!
She's not as little as she used to be, though! This week she hit a major milestone - 1 POUND! Last night she even weighed in at 500 grams (just over 17 ounces). If you remember from previous entries, 500 grams was the magic number we were hoping and praying she'd get to before she was born. According to all the experts, she needed to be 500 grams in order to have a chance at living - in order to be "viable." Of course, these experts had never met Becca or the amazing community that surrounds her. Starting out at only 370 grams, she proved to be far more than viable! As I've said before, she's quite the amazing little girl, and she's received care that rivals her amazing-ness (or amazingosity?). I usually think about what a miracle she is - but today I'm struck with what a miracle it all is. That is, I firmly believe that it has taken the incredible mix of a baby with the strongest will to live I've ever witnessed, a phenomenal staff of nurses, doctors, and therapists at a cutting-edge facility, and the incredible and expansive support system that can only be called the body of Christ. I know neither we nor Becca could have made it this far without each other and without you. So, again, thanks for all your support. Keep those miraculous thoughts coming!
As for an update on her physical condition - Becca's holding strong, but her infection does seem to be lingering in her PICC line, so they are thinking about removing it. Thus far, they've decided not to because removing it (and eventually replacing it in a few days) would be tough on her, so I think they are basically holding out and hoping that it clears up soon. She's way better than she was a few days ago, so I'm hoping that a few more days of antibiotics will take care of the problem. Unfortunately, though, they are going to wait to resume feedings until she's finished her antibiotics. The infection has caused an ilius (which I think is basically a blockage in her intestines, but I'm really unclear on this point) that makes them hesitant to put her back on the milk, but they think it will likely resolve itself as the infection clears up. But all in all, she's doing great...and so are we, now that we've finally gotten to hold our baby girl!