My niece Temperance was born on September 5, 2016 (Labour Day), but at only 24 weeks (and weighing only 680 grams). Given her extreme prematurity she has been in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) ever since. Still, I got a chance to visit with her last October 10 (Canadian Thanksgiving), on her 5th week birthday. I thought I'd offer an update.
First of all, let me say THANK YOU to the legions of people who offered prayers for Temperance. We all felt we were being lifted up to the Lord.
I would also like to say thank you to the great many people who helped with the meal train and GoFundMe campaigns that helped my sister Miriam and her husband Michael be available to care for Temperance and her older sister Brigid (4 years old) and older brother Paxton (2 years old this week). To give you a sense of how wide-reaching that support was, some of the neighbourhood kids actually put up a lemonade stand to make a few dollars to help out. It's things like that which make you realise that it really is the thought that counts.
As for the baby, Temperance is doing very well. This doesn't mean there haven't been a few moments of concern along the way. By definition very premature babies are underdeveloped in significant ways. Her immune system is weaker, for example, meaning that any infection can be very dangerous. At one point Temperance had to be started on antibiotics because the nurses found she had a pimple. It might not sound like much to us as adults, but for a baby weighing less than 2 pounds it's a big deal.
Happily Temperance's blood work came back OK (i.e. no infection), but there have been other concerns. Again, premature babies like her are not really supposed to be breathing air yet. Sometimes her little diaphragm gets tired, and so she takes a break. Apparently premature babies often have this kind of "spell". Of course, taking a break from breathing is a real problem, and that's where all the monitoring in the NICU comes in handy. Happily it doesn't take much to get her breathing again -- believe it or not, she just needs to be touched. As you can see from the photo, she also gets the help from a CPAP, although lately she's been able to go for a few hours just with oxygen prongs.
One piece of really good news is that Temper's digestive system is working well. She has been gaining weight: 995 grams when I saw her last, and by now probably a kilogram. My brother-in-law wrote a Facebook post recently sharing how happy we was to change his daughter's diaper. Normally this is not the most pleasant of parenting duties, but with Temperance every poop is a blessing.
Oh, and about that nickname. Normally someone named Temperance is called "Tempie" for short, but this little one is apparently quite feisty. She kicks and punches and makes sure to let the nurses know when she is unhappy, so they told my sister that "Temper" was a good name. Again, good news! We want her to be ready to take on the world.
Brigid and Paxton have drawn pictures for their little sister, and recently Paxton kept saying his sister's name so Michael brought him to the hospital to visit. His words? "Temperance mine!" One thing's for sure, she's got a family ready to welcome her and love her.
Again, thank you to all of you for your prayers and support. It's like you've been an extended part of our family for us, and it is deeply appreciated. Assuming things continue to go well Temperance should be out of hospital in time for Christmas, and it will be the best present we've ever received.
God bless all of you!