Life in the SCN

I thought some of you might appreciate a little bit of a description of what it is like in the Special Care Nursery.

When I arrive at the nursery I have to be buzzed in by a nurse.  Then I have to wash my hands.  After that I walk down to the room that Rowan is in.  There are quite a few babies in this room, and you can also hear a bit of what is going on in the hallway and in the next room.  That means that there are always alarms going off.  Some of them are just reminders that something has come disconnected or isn’t reading right.  Some are the more urgent-sounding alarms of As, Bs, and Ds (and Ts… tachycardia).  The first few times you visit those alarms are terrifying.  But you quickly learn that if the nurses aren’t concerned, then you don’t need to be concerned.  If an episode goes on for too long they will calmly walk over and give the baby a jostle to correct the issue.

All the babies are on monitors that look like this.  11230665_10153334808934846_6582600371351432993_n

The green number is his heart rate.  It is supposed to be between 100 and 200.  The yellow number is his respiration rate.  It is supposed to be between 10 and 100.  The blue number is his oxygen saturation, which is supposed to be between 85 and 100.

At Duke Regional most of the babies are in open air cribs like the one that Rowan is in now.  There are a lot of parents who come in and out.  Some babies were much older gestationally than Rowan, so they start right out with breast/bottle feeding.  Some parents are in there frequently when I am, and some either aren’t able to visit very frequently, or tend to come later in the evening.

Days when I am there by around 9am I get to hear the Doctor, NP, med students, and nurses do rounds.  If the parent is there they make sure to be where the parent can hear what is being said.  The medical team starts with reading the information on the baby, gestational age, primary diagnosis, status of various systems, and any changes they plan to make.  Then they give the parents a chance to ask questions.  If I don’t arrive until later then the nurse gives me a status update.

Now that he is swaddled and in a crib it is much easier for me to pick him up.  I no longer feel the need to ask for the nurse’s help or permission.  When I get there I go ahead and pick him up, being careful of the various wires.  Though if I pull one off it is no big deal to reattach.

The nurse feeds him via his NG tube every three hours.  Now we also tend to start with a bottle feed or nursing, if he is awake and cuing.  Cuing would be things like having his eyes open, smacking his lips, or trying to eat his hands.  Feeding him through the NG tube involves pulling milk into a big syringe that is put into a machine that slowly allows milk through the tube over the course of 45 minutes to an hour.

Before each feed his diaper is changed (I do it if I am there), his temperature is taken, and the nurse listens to his heart/lungs.  They weigh him once a day.  We also weigh him before and after nursing to see how much he got.  They check his length on Sunday evenings.

When I need to pump I can either pump at the bedside, using some moveable screens for privacy, or I can go to the pumping room.  So far I’ve just pumped at the bedside.  Better to stare at my rather adorable kid.

That is about all I can think of at the moment.

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