Annika continues to improve each day, slowly but surely. As of today, she's down to room air (21% oxygen) again, on 2.5L worth of air flow on the nasal cannula. She graduated yesterday to an open-top crib instead of the isolette and she's been maintaining her body temperature quite well. She is being given a 3-day course of Lasik (a diuretic to reduce water retention) to eliminate the extra fluid she has from being on IV's for 10 days. We can see the reduction in the puffiness in her face, but the main goal is actually to help reduce extra fluid retention in her lungs. It seems to be working well, as her respiration rate has come down steadily over the past couple of days and except for occasional "episodes" she's staying nicely in the optimal range (20-60 breaths per minute). Because of the reduced respiration rate and longer alert periods, she was allowed to try bottle feeding starting last night, and when we were visiting this morning, I got to give her a bottle! :)
To follow up on my last post, I'm sure most of you heard the update either in person, or via Facebook updates, but we learned on Monday (I think, it might have been Tuesday...my days are running together) that Annika had a probable case of pneumonia on top of the premature lung disease from being born at 35 weeks without any steroid lung maturation. Sunday was a rough day, but we actually didn't become aware of the condition until she was starting to make progress again. Honestly, as rough as last weekend was, we feel very blessed that my Group B strep status was unknown when labor began. What seemed like an unnecessary precaution at the time (I've been negative with both other kids, and was again this time we found out later) turned out to make a huge difference in Annika's life. If we had known that I was group B negative, they wouldn't have started her on antibiotics immediately following birth. Without the antibiotics, the pneumonia could potentially have been even more serious than it was, and Annika could have had an even rougher start than she did. Though the journey still seems far from over, we've already starting to see God's hand working throughout the situation. Though it would never have been what we would have chosen, we can still see how much worse things could have been and how God has been keeping us and our daughter safe when we could not have done anything to protect ourselves on our own.
I think the hardest part for me is still that we're just not sure how much longer she'll be in the NICU. She's making progress on all the goals she needs to be, but I think it'll probably still be a week or two before she's ready to join us at home. It's just a bit frustrating, because everyone says she's doing well, but no one is able to tell us how long the rest of her progress might take. She's really setting the pace right now, so it's just really up to her at this point. I definitely want her to be healthy and as ready as she needs to be before we bring her home, but it gets harder and harder to leave her as she's more aware of our presence and also as we're able to do more and more for her. At the beginning it was obvious we couldn't care for her in the medical condition she was in, but now it seems like almost everything she needs we could do at home with the right equipment. However, they have protocol and so she'll continue teaching mommy a lesson in patience.
We finally got pictures of our whole family together (aren't the kiddos all just too cute?) and I just am so excited to think about our little family returning to "normal" though it may be awhile before that actually happens. In the meantime we'll treasure the time we get to spend with her and rejoice in each step she takes toward coming home!