Okay, so it's been a long time since the last update, and the kids have been busy. I'll try to give the news from the last week and a half in a more or less chronological fashion, so that it seems like you haven't been getting gypped since the new year started.
Probably the most significant development is that Chloe and Owen are bedmates again. After hanging out in the womb together for six months and then being split apart for a month, they're back together again. The doctors said that when they got stable enough and were off of the ventilators and had no IV lines, that they could be moved into the same incubator together. The big moving day happened 5 or 6 days ago, and the kids couldn't be happier. They are cuddled up together all the time now, and they honestly seem to be really comforted by one another's company.
After moving in together (Owen moved into Chloe's isolette, by the way), they were moved out of Nursery A and into Nursery B. Nursery B is for the older, lower risk kids who, in general, need less attention than the kids in Nursery A. Apparently, the NICU staff was expecting the delivery of a set of quadruplets within the next few days, and they wanted to clear out a whole wing of Nursery A to accommodate them. Chloe and Owen were in the way, so they got booted to the other nursery. The nursing staff had been telling us for a little while that Chloe and Owen were ready to move over, but there wasn't really any reason to go to the trouble of moving them: there was plenty of room in Nursery A and it was pretty quiet. Lots of babies had gone home, and it was somewhat of a ghost town. But the imminent arrival of the quadruplets finally gave them reason to move us over. Nursery B is quieter, but we think that the nursing staff over there is not quite as skilled and experienced as the nursing staff in Nursery A.
Anyhow, since moving to Nursery B we've had a small setback. Chloe and Owen have both gotten RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus, although don't ask me what Syncytial means). RSV is a viral infection that targets the lungs, airways, and sinuses. RSV is very very common (especially during the winter months) and very contagious. According to some information at rsvprevention.com, Approximately two-thirds of infants are infected with RSV during the first year of life and almost 100% have been infected by age two. Most of these RSV infections cause minor upper respiratory illness. However, in certain high-risk pediatric patients, RSV infection may cause serious lower respiratory tract disease. Most infants with RSV appear to just have a cold, although some get more serious infections, and 2% of them die. The kids that are most at risk are low-birth-weight premies, of course. With proper treatment, though, it should be no big deal. What it means for us, though, is that the kids have been moved to their own isolated room (within Nursery B) and that we have to put on a gown and gloves and a face mask whenever we visit them. Which is a BIG DOWNER. <...sigh...>
At least the kids are growing. As of yesterday evening, Chloe weighed 3 lbs 3 oz. And Owen apparently ate a horse, because he's now up to 4 lbs 3 oz. Owen's feedings are up to 32 CC's every 3 hours, and Chloe's feedings are up to 28 CC's every 3 hours.
Chloe is awake and alert a lot of the time. She looks around and makes eye contact with people visiting her. As her dad, I'd like to say that she smiles at me, but it probably isn't true. Owen has been much more lethargic than his sister lately. He spent most of today sleeping. And when he sleeps, he looks like he's been out cold for 100 years.
Julie started doing non-nutritive feedings with the kids this week. Essentially, what this means is that she pumps her breast milk (like usual) and then immediately goes to breast-feed the children (one at a time). Since she's just finished pumping, the kids don't get any milk during the feeding (maybe just a taste). The purpose of it is so that they can get used to being at her breast and learning how to latch on and suck. Meanwhile, they still get fed through a feeding tube (stuck down their noses and into their stomachs). And they get their milk through the feeding tube at the same time as they're practicing breast-feeding with Julie. With the combination of the milk in the feeding tube and non-nutritive feeding with Julie, they should start to build up a mental association between sucking and getting food in their stomachs. They'll probably start doing real breast-feedings within the next week or two, as long as they don't have any major setbacks from RSV (like having to be put back onto a ventilator).
Chloe is continuing to have her head measured every day and ultrasounded once a week. The circumference of her head is still growing, and the ventricles are still expanding, but it's happening very very slowly, and the doctors say that they see no reason to intervene with any sort of fluid drainage device.
Thanks for checking the update. And we're happy to hear from anyone who has emailed. I don't think I have any more info to post, so I guess I'll be back in a few days.