We had our first care conference today, which was a little intimidating at first. It was very reminiscent of the job interviews I’ve had in where the candidate, or parent in this case, is sat at a conference room table surrounded by a group of experts. Eight medical professionals, including the neonatologist, dietitian, NNP, nurse, social worker, lactation consultant, pharmacist, and two pharmacy students were at my disposal to answer questions and to share their long-term plans for Garrin’s care. I should mention that the group will grow for future care conferences as the speech and occupational therapists have not yet started working with him. Fortunately, there were not a lot of new information shared at this meeting. We talked about Garrin’s current corrected age, his respiratory support needs and goals, the plan to wean him off morphine over the next week, and his growth curve. And that big “H” word was mentioned more than once during the hour-long meeting.
The NNP in attendance hadn’t been on Garrin’s case in more than a week and commented on how he was a different baby than when she last saw him. He was alert and following her when she talked to him, and he tolerated her examination well. She was pleasantly surprised and remarked that we should be happy with his progress. All of the medical professionals have been pleased with Garrin’s gastrointestinal function as many babies born at 23 weeks have gut problems. They have also been very pleased that he hasn’t required a lot of antibiotics since birth. We thank God for each of these “wins,” and pray for his continued blessings for our son.
The further along that we get in this journey, the easier it is to see that Garrin’s early arrival will have lasting effects on our lives. Our priorities have changed, and we are growing as human beings. What was normal six weeks ago will never be our normal again. Even I had thought things would go back to the way they were when we went home. The more conversations we have about the big “H,” the more I realize that’s just not going to be the case. When Garrin goes home, there is the potential for him to require in-home health care, but even beyond that, he will be at extremely high risk of serious illness and even hospitalization when exposed to common cold and flu viruses. At the risk of getting too political, I have to ask you, dear family and friends, to please get a flu shot this season and make sure that your Tdap vaccine is current. It could save a life.
“We sense that ‘normal’ isn’t coming back, that we are being born into a new normal: a new kind of society, a new relationship to the earth, a new experience of being human.” ~Charles Eisenstein