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        Danika Brousseau

        Danika was born Dec 14, 1999 at 12:06 pm, almost 8 weeks premature.

        The Photos
        The Diary Part 1 - Dec 22, 1999
        The Diary Part 2 - Dec 29, 1999
        The Diary Part 3 - Jan 4, 2000
        The Diary Part 4 - Jan 11, 2000
        The Diary Part 5 - Jan 18, 2000



        Dec 22, 1999 - The Diary Part 1 -

        First, we want to thank those who have prayed for Ali and Danika through our little adventure. Your prayers were and are needed, and they were heard and answered by our loving God. Secondly, we want to thank Mom, Mom, Teresa, and Peggy for disseminating information as we made it available through phone calls.

        As of Sunday (12/19), Danika was very stable and doing well in Beverly Hospital. She was keeping her temperature well enough that Ali got to give her her very first bath. After being prettied up, Ali dressed her in a Santa hat she had hand sewn. The nurse on duty (Randi) got into the whole idea of a photo-op and searched for a red one piece outfit to go with the hat. Alas, only a mint green one could be found, but hey, green is a Christmas color! Randi then covered one of the warming beds with pink tissue paper, outlined the area with a silver bead strand, put Danika in the middle of it and placed several small wrapped gifts around her. Dani looked great! The excitement for the day didn't end there. Danika got to bottle feed for the first time that afternoon as well. She had no problem coordinating the sucking, swallowing, and breathing reflexes. That coordination doesn't usually happen until the 34th or 35th week of gestation. So in that regard, she's ahead of the curve!

        We found out that our hopes to have her home by the New Year were probably not going to be realized. One of the neonatologists told us that one of Beverly Hospital's policies for the release of a premie is that the baby must breathe on their own without any type of assistance for 10 consecutive days. Danika is taking a caffeine like medication that stimulates the part of her brain that reminds her to breathe. (That's now my new excuse for my cup of coffee in the morning!) The earliest that she will be weaned off the medication is this coming Monday. So that puts the earliest date of her arrival home at 1/6/00. That's a tough realization for Ali and me, but we'd much rather be safe than sorry when it comes to Dani's health.

        We'll be having Christmas at home this year with a trip to the hospital to spend a good portion of the day with Danika. Grandma and Grandpa B are planning to come out in the afternoon as well. I believe Grandma and Grandpa E as well as Great-Grandma H may be joining us too.




        Dec 29, 1999 - The Diary Part 2 -

        Danika is doing well and surprised her parents on Christmas morning. We arrived at the hospital around 10:30am with Dani's Grandpa Moore. Some of Santa's little helpers (aka the SCN - Special Care Nursery - nurses) prepared a Christmas card from Danika to her Mom & Dad. In the card were 2 polaroid snapshots labeled "'Twas the night before Christmas" and "My first Christmas". The nurses had draped a huge stocking over Dani that made it look like she was in the stocking. Dani also had a stuffed reindeer in her isolette as well as a donated white fluffy teddy bear. The SCN staff have been phenomenal and helpful to all the parents with infants here.

        Grandpa Moore had a great visit with Dani. It's obvious that she has charmed her way into his heart. Grandma & Grandpa Brousseau and Auntie Katie drove out from Albany, NY and arrived in Georgetown at 1:30 pm. After a brief visit at home, we head back to the hospital where Grandpa B held Dani for the first time. He was unable to hold her when she was down in Boston because he had a bit of a cold. We think that he's pretty enamored with her, too. Our Christmas visit was nice because the SCN staff relaxed the 2 adults per crib side rule. This meant that all 5 of us could ogle at Danika at once.

        Sunday, Ali and the Albany contingent went back to the hospital to spend time with Dani while Dave went to church armed with late Christmas gifts to distribute and pictures of Dani. It was great because the church service was attended by friends from all over NH as well as our group from the North Shore area of MA. After service, Dave was swarmed by friends who wanted to see pictures of the little one. It was encouraging to know that so many have been concerned about Danika's health and anticipating her arrival! Sunday afternoon Dani had an episode where her blood-oxygen level desaturated ("desat") to 70% -- she's normally 98 - 100%. This occurred while Mom was burping her so it was not much of a concern to the nursing staff or the Neonatologist Specialist, Dr. Tran. She quickly bounced back up to 100% when Mom stop beating her back... It seems that the process of trying to get a baby to burp (beating the back) forces the baby to take shallower breaths, thus the desat, not enough oxygen. [I am not a Doctor (nor do I play one on TV) so my medical analysis may be off!]

        Monday, Dani had more visitors, Mom, Dad, Grandma Eichhorn, and Great- Grandma Horton. With this crew, and Dad armed with a camera, Dani participated in her first 4 generation photo-op. By all indications, Great- Grandma Horton is pretty keen on little Dani, too!

        So, enough of my drivel, you say? What you really want to know is how she's doing? Danika is doing very well at this stage. As of yesterday, she weighed in at 4 lbs, 9 ozs. She is taking 4 of her 8 feedings by bottle (and doing very well for the nurses, but being stubborn for Mom and Dad!). The temperature that her isolette is set at is 30.1C. When it gets down to 27-something, she'll be taken out of the isolette and put in a crib. The nurses are dropping the temperature in her isolette by several tenths of a degree each day. The best thing is that they will be taking her off the caffeine today. That means that the earliest she'll be home is 10 days from now! The Doctor said it'll take 5 days for the caffeine to be out of her system. Then they want to monitor her breathing (unaided!) for 5 days before she can be released. We can't wait! Dani and Mom are trying to work out the nursing coordination. They are both getting it down but the attempt to nurse quickly tires Dani out so she gets the rest of her feed via the tube still in her nose.

        Dani by the numbers (as of 12/28):
        ---------------------
        Weight: 4 lbs., 9 ozs.
        Isolette temp: 30.1 C
        Date of last desat: 12/26
        Date of last apnea: 12/18? (I'll have to verify this)
        Data of last brady: None!
        Bottle feeds per day: 4
        Attempts at nursing: approx 2 per day.

        Medical terms:
        "desat" -- Blood-Oxygen desaturation (drops below 90%)
        "apnea" -- An episode where breathing stopped (she forgot to breathe)
        "brady" -- An episode where the heart rate falls or stops

        Thank you for your continued prayers and concern. Thank you for the cards, calls, and support. We feel very blessed as a family. There are other parents with babies in the SCN who aren't as fortunate in this regard, so we are doing our best to spill over the support we feel to Dani's roommates' parents. Without God's strength and your support, we wouldn't have the energy to do that. You are not only affecting our lives, but the lives of other families as well.



        Jan 4, 2000 - The Diary Part 3 -

        It's hard to believe how much has happened since we last wrote less than a week ago. Our adventure continues...

        The day after Part 2 of the Diary was sent out, our heroine, Mom, was diagnosed with bronchitis. Yuck! This made for some challenging times to work out going to see Danika. Mom rested alot and is feeling much better now. But even through this challenging week, Mom and Dani learned how to work together and make nursing a successful endeavor.

        On the 30th (last Thursday), Dad went alone to visit with Danika so Mom could get some rest. When he arrived, he found Dani in her isolette without her feeding tube in her nose. What a great surprise until he found out that it wasn't taken out per Doctor's orders, Dani decided she didn't want it any more and took it out of her own accord. Dad didn't have much fun watching the nurses thread another tube down Danika's nose to her stomach. In fact, Dani didn't care for that too much either.

        On the 31st, the tube came out per Doctor's orders! Dani was now up to 8 bottle feeds (plus nursing) per day, one every 3 hours. The Doctor was now letting her take as much food as she wanted. As a result, she was amazing the nurses with how much (and how quickly) she was eating -- some say she's gotten that trait from her Dad. Dani has been steadily increasing her weight. As of yesterday morning, she was up to 5 lbs, 1.5 ozs! We think that Danika is a very kissable little girl now that she has the tube out of her nose. Neither Mom, nor Dad, can seem to help but shower her with affection.

        On New Year's Eve, Mom and Dad visited Dani for her 6:30pm feeding. Mom went home to rest and Dad met up with friends from church to do some Pre-New Millenium celebrating. He left at 10:30ish to drive home to pick up Mom so Mom, Dad, and Danika could ring in the New Year. Unfortunately, Mom wasn't feeling well, so we stayed home and watched the ball drop with friends Jason and Teresa Cleary. Come to find out, Danika was having a New Year celebration of her own, by 12:30am on 1/1/00, she was moved out of her isolette into an open air crib! She has been holding her temperature very well since this big move for her. She continues to have a healthy appetite and continues to grow. She has had several episodes where she desats, so we're still waiting for her brain to mature to the point where she always remembers to breathe deeply. But this is to be expected, and she's doing exactly what she should be doing at this stage of her development. Most of her desats come during feeds or right after, when she's trying to work a burp up and out. The desats that are real concerns are the ones that occur during her sleep. She had two of those early yesterday morning although they were brief and she "restarted herself". So what does this mean for her "5 days" of no issues before she can come home? We're not sure, it's up to the Doctor to decide whether or not any of these episodes restarts the 5 day countdown. Intellectually, we know that it might be best for her to stay in the hospital, but emotionally, we want her home with us. What a dilemma!

        It's at times like these that God often gives us a perspective check, and we got ours on New Year's Eve while visiting with Dani at her 6:30 feed. While Mom was nursing her, the SCN staff were running around readying a crash cart for a little boy who was being delivered in the Emergency Room downstairs. This boy was born at 27 weeks gestation (Dani was 32 5/7 weeks) and weighed only 1.5 lbs. After he was born, they rushed him upstairs to the SCN where the Neonatologist on call worked on him to stabilize him and get him ready for transport down to Boston. The 3 of us were directly across the room from him, seperated only by the screen that was put up so Mom could nurse in private. When Dani had finished eating, Dad and Dani prayed for her new roommate. The last we heard, he was stabilized successfully, transferred down to Boston, and was doing well. Modern science is an amazing tool! This whole situation helped us to get a grateful perspective that Danika was as developed as she was before she decided to come into the world.

        Dani by the numbers (as of 1/3):
        ---------------------
        Weight: 5 lbs., 1.5 ozs.
        Isolette temp: Who cares? She's in an open air crib!
        Date of last desat: 1/3
        Date of last apnea: 12/18
        Data of last brady: None!
        Oral feeds per day: 8 (all!)





        Jan 11, 2000 - The Diary Part 4 -

        Danika is 4 weeks old today. She is still in the hospital and overall doing well. She's putting on some good weight and should tip the scales today at over 6 pounds!

        Mom is doing well, the bronchitis is gone. Dad is hanging in there and looking forward to the week off from work when Dani comes home.

        Mom and Dad thought that Dani was going to be coming home this past Saturday (1/8) but Danika decided to keep the nurses on their toes after her 3:30am and 6:30am feeds on Thursday (1/6). Her desat at 3:50am was not a big concern because it was short and she resolved it herself. She decided that wasn't enough excitement though and had to go one step better at 6:40am. Her bradycardia alarm went off (her heart rate dropped to 79 bpm and is usually 155-165 bpm) as well as a desat. The nurse had to stimulate her gently to remind her to keep going (she probably had to rub her head or slightly pinch her cheek or toes).

        Dani did fine on the 7th but wanted a bit more excitement on the 8th after her 9:30am feed. Another desat with gentle stimulation to be reminded to keep going.

        When she wanted more excitement on the 9th after her 3:30am feed (self resolved), Mom and Dad started getting weary of the wait to bring her home. The SCN Nurses have been great and undoubtedly care for our little girl. For that, we're very grateful. Dad was joking with one of them on Sunday afternoon wondering why all of her spells were happening at feeds so early in the morning. Dad told her that he is going to grow suspicious and start coming in early in the morning to witness one of these spells. He justs wants to make sure the nursing staff weren't making up these events in order to keep Dani around! She has definitely become a favorite there. One of the nurses took it upon herself to feed Dani one afternoon though Dani was not one of her charges for the day. The nurse in charge of her care was a bit jealous when she walked in and found Dani being fed. It's nice to know that people are fighting each other in order to take care of our little girl!!!

        One of the nurses told me that he thinks the spells early in the morning are due to Danika deciding in mid-suck that she's all done eating. One thing about this girl, when she decides she's done eating... she's done eating. There isn't a single person, Mom or Dad especially, who can get her to eat another drop. The mid-suck stop, causes her to gag on the milk in her mouth, and instead of swallowing, she holds her breath. Thus, the desat. Though, this is just a theory.

        The next big milestone for Danika is a 2 hour car seat test. The Doctor wants to make sure that Dani can sit in her car seat for 2 hours without any desats. He wants to wait for her to stabilize a bit before he attempts this test. She did very well yesterday and we'll have to see how she does today. I'm sure with 2 or 3 good days under her belt, the Doctor will give the OK for this test.

        Mom and Dad have been trying to temper their emotions with a bit of rationale. We know that Dani is better off in the hospital while having these spells. We know that this represents only a handful of days in the span of a lifetime. We know that Dani wasn't even due to be born yet. But the emotions are still strong. One of the nurses summed it up very well for us on Saturday. We know that she is where she NEEDS to be. She's just not where she's SUPPOSED to be (whether that "supposed to be" is home with us or still in utero). The things that get us through when we melt down are a) prayer and knowing that God is in control, b) family and friends to talk to and cry with, and c) knowing that so many are praying for Dani to come home safely.

        Dani by the numbers (as of 1/10):
        ---------------------
        Weight: 18 grams (less than 1 oz. shy of 6 pounds!)
        Isolette temp: Who cares? She's in an open air crib!
        Date of last desat: 1/9
        Date of last apnea: 12/18
        Data of last brady: 1/6 (alarm)
        Oral feeds per day: 8 (all!)

        We are hoping that she'll be home soon. We'll be sure to let you know when that happens!





        Jan 18, 2000 - The Diary Part 5 -

        Well, Mom & Dad survived their first 2:45 am feeding. And that could mean only one thing... Danika came home from the hospital yesterday!

        Until 10:00 am yesterday morning, we weren't sure that 1/17 would be the day. Originally, last Friday, 1/14 was the day we were shooting for. Wednesday night, Dad told several friends that if it didn't happen on Friday, he'd achieve the melt down point. The daily trips to the hospital were getting to be too much. When Mom called Dad at work on Thursday (1/13) in tears and said that Dani wouldn't be coming home the next day (she decided to pull a little stunt with the nursing staff), Dad was surprised that the melt down didn't come. He's not sure if it was a true surrender to God's plan at that point or if he was shutting down emotionally so he didn't feel the hurt. The guess is that it was some mixture of both, but more the latter. Doctor Tran told Mom that they'd shoot for Monday as a release date.

        At one Friday morning's feeds (not early in the morning, so 9:30ish?) Dani had a desat, but that was due to a spit-up so Doctor Tran said that that one wouldn't count. Phew! The count down could continue! Because so many issues were occuring around her early morning feeds, one of the nurses suggested to Doctor Tran that he change her feeding schedule to be "at will" with a maximum of 4 hours between feeds during the day and 5 hours between feeds at night. This helped out immensely with her early morning feeds. One more desat came the next morning at 12:10 am after a bottle feed. It was extremely minor. Her alarm is set to ring at 85% oxygenation. Her O2 dropped to 82% briefly and she restarted herself without intervention. What we didn't know was whether or not this would be counted against her. Doctor Tran was out all weekend, so we didn't know. Dani had no issues Sunday night into Monday morning, so Dad called the hospital to find out what the status was. Doctor Tran was on rounds so the nurse got the Neonatologist on call. She looked at Dani's chart and said another 2 to 3 days because of the desats. Dad explained Doctor Tran's take on the desat that occurred on Friday morning, but didn't know if the Saturday morning desat was major enough to restart the counting. Dad was just trying to figure out if he needed to go into work on Monday or take the day off. So he went to work. The plan was that Mom was going to continue to call the hospital until she got a chance to talk to Doctor Tran, after all, he's the one that really knows Danika and what she (and her parents!) have been through. Maybe he would have a different opinion. Since you know that Dani came home yesterday, you can deduce that Doctor Tran had a different opinion! So Dad drove 45 minutes to work for a 2 hour work-day... which was fine by him!

        Doctor Lesa Whyte (Ok, so not a real doctor but one of Dani's Aunts) predicted a diagnosis for Mom & Dad: "parental amnesia" which is a disease that makes you forget about the hospital experience once you get your baby home and she gives you that first smile at home. We can't say that we're 100% infected, but we're pretty close!

        A friend of ours, Nancy Pilotte, has put together this web site inspired by The Danika Diary. Dani is now a cyber-baby! Our hope is that other parents of premies will find this site and that it will be a help to them. Not to mention it's a great way for friends and family to keep up to date with Danika! Thanks, Nancy!

        As of yesterday morning, Dani weighed in at 6 lbs, 9 ozs and was 19 inches long. Today at 12:06pm, Danika will be 5 weeks old. She is now snuggling and napping with her Mom on the couch, very content.

        Thanks for listening to a Father rant and rave. Thanks for your support and prayers. Thanks for your comments and encouragement. Thanks for thinking our daughter is "cuuuuuuute", precious, and beautiful. (Thanks for telling us that you're grateful she looks like her Mom! So is Dad!)

        Thanks to the staff at both Beth Israel and Beverly Hospitals, for not only caring about Danika but her parents as well.

        Above all, we thank God for carrying us through this chapter of our adventure.





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