Jill and I are pleased to announce the birth of Saffron Phyllis Catherine Usticke on August 23, 2001 at 1:22am. She was a robust 2 pounds 15 ounces and 15 inches long. While Saffy took us all by surprise by arriving 10 weeks early, she is healthy and currently breathing without the assistance of oxygen or a ventilator. With your positive thoughts and prayers, Saffy should grow in size and gain in strength during her difficult weeks in Neonatal Intensive Care. Enjoy the attached pictures from Saffy's first day. (8/23/01)
Saffy was discharged from the hospital after nearly six weeks. This section outlines her progress while she was under hospital care.
Saffy was due on Halloween 2001 but was born 10 weeks prematurely. She was kept in the hospital until she developed enough to retain warmth, nurse, and breathe without monitoring. Saffy could have been kept in the hospital until her due date (Halloween) or even longer.
Location: Saffy spent her first several hours in the most critical area of Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU). She was moved to a stable NICU room on her first day. After her first week, she was moved to the Special Care Nursery. Saffy was in a hospital outside of New York City that was supposed to receive victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attack. Parents may normally visit 24-hours per day, but this was restricted on the day of the attack--the only day Jill and Alec didn't spend the evening with her.
Warmth: Saffy started in an isolette/incubator to keep her warm. She was only held when swaddled, but her parents were encouraged to "Kangaroo" (hold her skin-to-skin)--the parent's heat kept her warm. As of Saffy's tenth day, her isolette was set to manual mode, and her temperature was no longer constantly monitored. With weight gain, Saffy was able to maintain her temperature without assistance (fat = insulation). On her 25th day, Saffy was moved to an open bassinet. On her 33rd day, Saffy passed her car seat test--she spent an hour in a car seat while maintaining her heat with no apnea episodes (see Breathing below).
Breathing: While Saffy never needed a ventilator or oxygen, her oxygen level and heart rate were constantly monitored. She frequently experienced apnea (temporarily forgetting to breathe), but occurrences become less frequent over time. She usually corrected herself, but a nurse was always nearby to give her a gentle nudge to start breathing again. Saffy received caffeine to stimulate her breathing. She will need it until she goes an entire week without any apnea episodes--so far, she has only gone a day or two. As of Saffy's fifth week, her apnea was really the only thing keeping her in the hospital. Saffy was still experiencing apnea when she was discharged, so she was sent home on a portable heart and respiration monitor. (See Coming Home below.)
Feeding: Saffy was fed intravenously her first day, but was quickly moved to breast milk, which was fed via a tube through her mouth or nose. She was fed every two hours; but, as of her 18th day, she was strong enough to receive a larger amount every three hours. In order to learn to nurse, Saffy had to learn to suck, swallow, and breathe all at the same time (that's hard!). As of her third week, Saffy was receiving every other feed via breast or bottle; and, as of her fifth week, this increased to just about every feed, and she was moved to feeding every four hours.
Growth: While Saffy's hospital stay wasn't necessarily related to her weight, below is her growth progress. While in the hospital, Saffy received fortified breast milk (extra calories added) and iron and multivitamin supplements to accommodate her development.
See Saffy's Growth for daily weight.
was discharged from the hospital on October 2--just shy of her sixth week
but still a negative corrected age (36 weeks gestation--her corrected age
will be zero on Halloween). Please enjoy these pictures of Saffy's
Breathing: Even after coming home, Saffy still experienced apnea (see Saffy's Progress above), so she received caffeine to stimulate her breathing and was always hooked up to a portable heart and respiration monitor. The caffeine treatment was discontinued in late November. After a few week--when the caffeine was totally out of her system--Saffy was tested again. Luckily, she no longer experienced apnea, so she was taken off the portable monitor.
Growth: Now that Saffy is home, her weight won't be tracked on a daily basis. She continued to gain weight until her liver condition interfered with her feeding.
See Saffy's Growth for daily weight.
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