The doctors believe that Atticus has Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). This is a condition that is seen in premature babies in which the bowels are under bacterial attack and the tissue can perforate and die. (If that happened, emergency surgery would be needed.)
This morning at approximately 4am, they noticed his CO2 climbing up much more than it had been. Then he had residuals from his feeds. His belly has grown bigger throughout the day and finally, he has had blood in his stool the last few hours. His medical team hasn’t gotten the official word that NEC is what Atticus has, but the above symptoms are typical for NEC. They are treating him for it until they find out otherwise.
Atticus has started on antibiotics and will be getting blood transfusions to help his white blood cells, his platelets, and a number of other things to aid in his support. They had to stop his steroid treatment. They also stopped his feedings and are wicking away fluid that would have gone through his bowels.
He also lost his arterial line overnight. They put one in his foot earlier today, but a clot formed making it difficult to use. A doctor got called in from his day off and was able to get a double line back in Atticus’ right wrist. They have tapped almost all of Atticus’ arteries at this point. I think there is one left that they haven’t used. His risk is higher with the double line in his wrist… just another thing to worry about this week.
The doctors have tried to explain what is going on. We’ve been here since about 11:30 this morning and we’ve met surgeons, extra doctors, looked at xrays, had loads of nurses in here… since about 3pm, there have been at least 3 medical personnel in here at all times… it is now 9pm.
They moved Atticus to another bed in case they have to do surgery on him tonight. During this process, they asked if I wanted to hold him. I got to hold my son for about a minute. He looked up at me while I encouraged him. This is the first and only time I’ve gotten to hold him and I would be lying to not admit that my terror is that this could be the only time I ever get to hold him alive.
The doctors have told us that this can go in any direction. They have also said the next few days will probably be the hardest in our lives and have encouraged us to be surrounded by people if we are extroverted, stillness if we are introverted. That it is ok to cry, to go home and scream. To turn to the G*d of our understanding if we are spiritual. It could be a combination of all of the above. We will both have lots of positive thoughts, lots of hope, probably some anger, loads of fear… I’m sure we will have all possible feelings and some contradictory, simultaneous emotions.
We’ve been incredibly lucky that the first 21 days were as quiet as they were. Now we fight.