Caringbridge Update

We’re celebrating two birthdays this weekend:  Sam’s adjusted birthday (today), and his 3 month actual birthday (tomorrow)!  Preemies have 2 birthdates for the first couple of years of life.  Too bad he can’t eat cake yet!  Sam still had a lot of developing to do when he was born, so he is nothing like a 3 month old baby.  He is very much like a brand new newborn–he is in the 50th percentile for height and weight for his adjusted age.  Developmentally, Sam is actually a little advanced because of the extra three months he’s had outside of the womb.  He can lift his head and his doctor confirmed yesterday that his smiles are real, social smiles and not gas!

I’m sure you’ve guessed already that Sam is finally home!  Our last night in the hospital was pretty stressful. Sam was weighed at about 11 pm on Wednesday and was down an ounce and a half.  On top of that, he got a bit constipated and wasn’t interested in drinking much milk.  We were sure they wouldn’t let us take him home. Our nurse decided to weigh him again in the morning, and his weight was actually above what it had been Tuesday evening.  Don’t ask me how that happened!  It definitely wasn’t because he ate a lot!

We could hardly believe it when we were given Sam’s discharge papers.  We signed a bunch of papers, unhooked him from his monitors and walked out of the hospital for what we hope will be the last time for a very long while.

We love having Sam at home, and I think he’s pretty happy to be here too.  Darwin, our cat, isn’t sure what to think yet.   We’ve had a few stressful moments and some sleepless nights, but we’re enjoying our time together as a family.  Sam is getting used to sleeping in our quiet house instead of in a hospital room filled with the sounds of alarms, chatter, and crying neighbor babies.  We’ve stopped checking to make sure that he is breathing every 15 minutes.  It’s more like once an hour now. 🙂

For the last 3 months we’ve watched enviously as new parents walked out of the hospital with their newborns.  For those parents, bring the baby home was just the beginning.  We’ve already been through so much with Sam that it is hard to remember that this is just the beginning for us too.  The first chapter of Sam’s life has come to a close, and now we get to enjoy our beautiful boy and really be parents for the first time.

Thank you for sharing our journey with us.  Sam is a lucky little boy to have so many people in the world who love him so much already.  This will be our last post on CaringBridge, but if you still need a Sam fix, you can go to http://www.castillomania.com for photos and updates.

Caringbridge Update

Sam continues his campaign of shock and awe.

The nurses have consistently set the expectation that Sam should feed every 3 hours and complete a full feed of 85ml. The little guy, on the other hand feels that after eating 50-65ml, he’s good. To meet the nurses expectations we have had to push our little Samole to finish his feeds, fearing that we might not earn the privilege to go home otherwise. As a result, we’ve been stimulating him so that he wakes up enough to continue feeding. We twist the bottle in his mouth, pull the nipple out a little, adjust him in our laps, or burp him – all to wake him up and bring his conscious awareness back to sucking on his bottle. Since we started doing that, we’ve noticed an increase in spitups and regurgitations. Obviously not a desirable outcome. The final straw today was his second ever bout of projectile vomiting (this time all over Emily) – SHOCK!!!

So…our solution was to stop pushing him. He now consistently eats 50-65ml and has developed the habit of waking himself up every 2-2 1/2 hours instead of sleeping 3-4. This is still acceptable in the minds of the nurses and we’re all much happier for the change in plans!

Today was also the day that Sam got to try out his car seat for the very first time! The hospital wants to see babies able to sit upright in a carseat for an hour without desat-ing before they will discharge the infant. The obvious reason for this is that he has to be able to tolerate the ride home without having any problems. The danger that babies face is that, because they’re still so weak, they can’t pick themselves up when their heads slip forwards and their airway becomes blocked – clearly not a desirable situation. Sam passed the test with flying colors. He sat there like a champ for 10 minutes, decided he didn’t really like it there and fussed for a while – at which point the nurse put some warm blankets on him. That did him in! He slept the rest of the time. Check out the picture…AWWWW….

Okay, it was AWWWW, not AWE. So sue me.

Caringbridge Update

Yesterday was extremely disappointing.  Sam’s nurse practitioner called at 6 am to tell us that Sam had fed extremely well overnight and that he’d be coming home in a few days.  We were thrilled.  But then Sam had a day full of mediocre feedings.  He was really tired and I started to wonder if we’d made a big mistake.  It didn’t help that Sam’s nurse for the day (not one of his usual nurses) made it clear that she thought Sam had no business being fed on-demand.  She reminded me all day that he wasn’t taking in enough milk and that he’d lose weight because of our little experiment.

We came into the hospital this morning fully expecting that Sam would be off of on-demand feedings and that it would be weeks and weeks before he could come home.  But, surprise!  Sam gained weight yesterday (only 8 grams, but it’s something), and he had a good night of feedings.  We were asked to room in with Sam tonight and we’ve been given a tentative discharge date of Thursday.

Now, even though there is a discharge date set, there are still some hoops that need to be jumped through.  First, Sam needs to gain weight today and tomorrow.  He drank a lot of milk today, so I think there is an excellent chance that he’s gained some weight.  We’ll know around 9 or 10 tonight.  Second, he cannot have any respiratory episodes.  One respiratory episode would set us back a full week.  Finally, he needs to pass a car seat test.  He’ll sit in his car seat for an extended period of time while hooked up to his monitors to see if he can keep his oxygen saturation up.

So things are looking up!  It’s been a great day.  The only complaint we have is that, due to construction, the parent room-in rooms are not available.  Sam has been moved to a small private room.  There is a chair that folds out into a bed for a parent, but we can’t both stay tonight.  Dave is taking his last day of work tomorrow, so I’ll stay tonight and take care of Sam throughout the night.  We’ve been promised a bigger room for tomorrow night.

Caringbridge Update

We’re not sure if we’ll be able to room in with Sam today.  There’s some construction going on near/in those rooms, so it entirely depends on how quickly the construction crew finishes up.

I just finished feeding Sam, and it is clear right now that he is not taking in enough milk.  He was getting 25 ml/hour yesterday, and so far he’s only taken in 15/hour since midnight today.

Before going to this on demand feeding schedule, Sam was offered a bottle 3-4 times per day.  He would drink as much as he could in 30 minutes, and then the rest of it would be fed to him through his feeding tube.  He always got 8 feeds per day.  The ones that weren’t by bottle were given through the feeding tube.  Now he can only be fed when he wakes up and asks for it.  He can drink as much milk as he wants.  Nothing is given to him in a tube.  We only wake him up to feed him if it has been 4 hours since his last feeding.

Sam needs to learn that drinking milk makes his hunger go away and that when he feels hungry he needs to wake up and let someone know.  I think this will be a big challenge for Sam.  He’s a great sleeper and he really only cries when you poke him with pointy objects. I sat in his room today and thoughtCome on!  Wake up and cry!  Cry! Cry! Cry! He didn’t cry, but he kind of groaned and stretched.  I decided that was enough and did his feeding.

Caringbridge Update

Last night was a success!!  Sam woke himself up to eat and took about 2 ounces by bottle at each feed.  His Nurse Practitioner called today and said she thinks he’ll be coming home sometime this week!!

The next step is to room in with him.  The ISCU has some parent rooms that we can stay in with him.  It will give us good practice taking care of him around the clock.

Caringbridge Update

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today I had a nice Mother’s Day surprise at the hospital.  The March of Dimes gave all of the moms flower seeds for Mother’s Day.  Now if only I knew how to garden…

Sam is plugging along with his feeds.  Yesterday was a pretty good day–3 successful feeds by bottle.  He was too tired to finish his bottle this morning, though.  His feeds have been increased to 2 1/2 ounces every 3 hours.  His nurse practitioner is concerned that he has trouble with the volume.  There is talk of reducing the volume by increasing the calories of his milk.  I’m not sure that it will help, but who knows?

We are feeling encouraged today because one of Sam’s first roommates, Isobel, is going home!  Isobel and Sam’s due dates were within days of one another and they’ve had many of the same challenges with feeding.  Isobel was feeding like Sam up until a few days ago when the N.P. decided to try her out with on-demand feeds.  She did great with it and is on her way home right now.  Maybe that will be Sam soon!

Staying part-time

Higher education is a bad field to get into these days.  Most colleges and universities are reducing costs by hiring adjunct or part-time instructors.  Adjuncts (meaning contracted workers with no benefits or job stability) teach an average of 75% of college courses at community colleges across the country.  There are full-time teaching jobs, but they are few and far between.

I’ve been teaching as an adjunct ever since I returned from Thailand.   Here in Seattle, that means I’m “part-time”.  This is a misnomer since I don’t actually work part-time.  A full-time schedule is 4 teaching hours per day and I currently teach 5 per day.  I am split between two departments:  the Basic studies department (for immigrants and refugees), and the International department (for international students).  This is a nice arrangement for me because I love working with both groups of students.  Also, here in Washington, “part-time” instructors get health and retirement benefits and decent pay, so it doesn’t hurt me much to not have a full-time position.  In Arizona, that was another story.  I had no benefits and was paid much, much less than my “full-time” counterparts for exactly the same work.

But back to Washington. The only real problem with being a part-timer is low job-stability.  If enrollment goes down, my classes are the first to get cut.  If my classes are full, but a full-time instructor’s class is empty, my class will be given to the full-timer.  There’s also a lot of stress before every quarter as the many part-time teachers scramble to get classes.  In the past, I’ve taken on too much work because I was never sure if my classes would pan out.  In Arizona, I taught a full-time schedule at ASU, but also a part-time schedule at a community college because I worried that ASU would drop me in the middle of the semester, leaving me with no job.

As I wrote earlier, full-time jobs occasionally pop up, and two of them recently opened up in the International Dept. at my community college.  The department hadn’t hired any full-time instructors for 10 years.  I submitted my application and was selected for an interview.  This was a big deal because the department received 60 applications and only interviewed 9 people.  The interview was 2 1/2 hours, followed by a 15-minute teaching demonstration.  Talk about awkward!  I had to pretend that my boss and coworkers (the interview panel) were beginning ESL students.  Anyway, that interview went really well, and I was selected for the final round of interviews.  This was an interview with the college president, the vice-president of something or other, and the dean of the International Dept. 

I didn’t end up getting the job, which is fine with me.  It was going to be hard for me to give up teaching immigrants.  Also, getting so far in the job interviews was really an honor.  That sounds stupid, I know, but in this field it really is a big deal just to be interviewed.  My boss said that the department decided to go with people who had more experience.  So hey, when they open another position 10 years from now, I should be a good applicant!

Obama vs. Mccain

I’m doing an election project with one of my classes of international students (not immigrants). The students are creating their own political parties and preparing for debates. They know astonishingly little about our election. That’s not a criticism; I never really kept up with thai politics before we had that military coup. It’s just that, being election season, I was surprised that my students had never heard of john McCain. They HAD heard of Obama, but they really didn’t know anything about him.

We’ve been talking a lot about the major issues, so today I had them all take a quiz at http://www.whoshouldivotefor.com. It was eye-opening for many of them. Of course, everyone expected to find out that their ideas were the same as Obama’s, and most of them did. A third of the class found out that they should vote for McCain though, and the horrified looks on their faces were priceless. One of them insisted that his result was a mistake and took the test again (with the same result).

It’s just not cool to be a 20 year old college student in Seattle and not be rooting for Obama. Everyone around these kids rails against republicans so much that it’s probably easy to get the idea that all republicans are evil. Politics is so much more complicated than people make it sound.

Community college dining

Today I discovered a really great place to eat lunch, and it’s at my school. Seattle central has a culinary school. The students serve their creations every day in their restaurant near the cafeteria. Every Friday they have a buffet with all of their weekly specials. You buy tickets (10 tickets for $5). Each dish requires a certain number of tickets. Today I had some cod with a lemon viniagette, a salad, and tirimisu. It was great!