Avery's journey - part 7
A Cook Children’s employee documents her daughter's time in the NICU
These days Avery’s schedule is pretty busy. We often joke that she needs a personal assistant to manage all of her activities. Being a typical girl with the incredible ability to multi-task at a young age, Avery is working on a multitude of things right now, in addition to just learning how to breathe on her own.
Her day begins bright and early around 7 a.m. with cuddles from Mommy and then it’s time for her bottle feeding at 8. Other activities for the morning include a visit from the respiratory therapist (RT) for her breathing treatment and morning “massage.” Her “massage” is part of her chest physiotherapy where they use an oxygen mask to firmly pat her on her chest and back to help expand her lungs and break up any mucus she may have. This is one of Avery’s favorite parts of the day. We love to watch her as she lies in her bed on her stomach and dozes off to sleep as the RTs work their magic.
She may also get a visit from occupational or physical therapy for a morning workout where they work on fun things like learning to put her feet in her mouth and building her core strength to help her learn to roll over and sit up. They also have taught us about infant massage and given us stretches we can do with Avery to help her with her flexibility.
After her morning workout, she has likely worked up an appetite so it’s time to eat again. This time, a speech pathologist may come to give Avery her bottle. Learning to eat after 6 months is tough, so a speech pathologist is working with us on what bottles and nipples to use, positions to try when feeding her and different combinations of breast milk and formula to use. All of these things play an important factor in helping Avery to swallow efficiently and effectively and not having her food go down the “wrong way” which can cause aspiration and an infection in her lungs. We are about to introduce her to solid foods which will be another fun adventure!
Once she’s done eating, it’s usually time for a visit from Daddy, where she likes to squeeze in her afternoon nap on his lap. All the activity from the morning often wears her out for a few hours. She is, after all, a baby who needs her rest so she can grow healthy, new lung tissue.
In the afternoon, she may get a visit from the Child Life specialist for some “smile therapy” where we work on coaxing a smile out of her or arts and crafts activities with her footprints. The music therapist may come by to sing and play music while Avery works on her babbling.
Interspersed throughout this busy day of therapy visits, eating, naps and playtime, she also receives countless visits from the NICU staff and our family, all stopping by to see her outfit of the day and get an update on how she’s doing.
The late afternoon and early evening is reserved for family time where she plays on her play mat, works on tummy time or hangs out in her Bumbo® or exersaucer. By the time Shawn and I are ready to go home and sleep, Avery is usually asleep, worn out from all of the day’s activities. After all, she has to get a good night sleep so she can wake up and do it all over again the next day.
Kelly Wooley is a Marketing specialist at Cook Children’s. She is writing a series of blogs chronicling the birth of her daughter Avery and their time spent in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.